Picture your dream vacation.
Maybe you're dying to go to Rio for Carnival.
Or you really just want to hang out on a Mexican beach.
Or maybe you're going to join me in New Orleans for Jazz Fest.
Now, I know it's less pleasant,
but picture, for a moment,
one of the most violent places on earth.
Did anyone think of the same place?
Brazil is the most violent country in the world today.
More people have been dying there over the last three years
And in Mexico, more people have died over the last 15 years
than in Iraq or Afghanistan.
In New Orleans, more people per capita are dying
than in war-torn Somalia.
The fact is, war only results
in about 18 percent of violent deaths worldwide.
Today, you are more likely to die violently
if you live in a middle-income democracy
with high levels of income inequality
and serious political polarization.
The United States has four of the 50 most violent cities on earth.
Now, this is a fundamental alteration in the nature of violence, historically.
But it's also an opportunity.
Because while few people can do much to end war,
violence in our democracies is our problem.
And while regular voters are a big part of that problem,
we're also key to the solution.
Now, I work at a think tank,
the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
where I advise governments on what to do about violence,
but the dirty secret is,
most policymakers haven't figured out these changes to violence today.
They still believe that the worst violence happens in countries at war
or places that are too poor, too weak,
to fight violence and control crime.
And that had been my assumption too.
But if you look at a map of the most violent places on earth,
you see something strange.
Some of them are at war,
and a few are truly failed states.
The violence in these places is horrific,
but they happen to have small populations,
so it actually affects few people.
Then there's South Africa, Brazil, Venezuela.
These places are not poor.
Maybe they're weak.
My research assistant and I mapped places
based on how well they delivered on World Bank projects
and whether they could get public services to their people,
and if you did well on both of those,
if you could get sanitation and electricity to your people
and deliver vaccines,
you were in the upper right-hand quadrant.
And then we overlaid that
with a map of places where journalists were being murdered.
Some were happening in weak states,
but an awful lot of journalists were being killed
in places plenty capable of protecting them.
I traveled to every settled continent on earth,
comparing places that had faced massive violence and recovered
and those that hadn't,
and I kept seeing the same pattern.
I came to call it "privilege violence,"
because it happened in highly unequal democracies,
where a small group of people
wanted to hold on to inordinate power and privilege.
And if they didn't think they could get those policies past the voters,
sometimes they would turn to violent groups for help.
Drug cartels would finance their campaigns.
Organized criminals would help them get out the vote.
Gangs would suppress the vote.
And in exchange, they'd be given free reign,
and violence would grow.
It's the most violent country in the world today,
if you look at deaths per capita.
Twenty years ago, the current regime gained power in legitimate elections,
but they didn't want to risk losing it,
and so they turned to gangs, called "colectivos," for help.
The gangs were told to get out the vote for the government
and force people to vote for the regime in some neighborhoods
and keep opposition voters away from the polls in others,
and, in exchange, they'd be given control.
But if criminals have control,
then police and courts can't do their jobs.
So the second stage in privilege violence
is that courts and police are weakened,
and politicians politicize budgets,
so that they and the violent groups that they collude with stay out of jail.
Now, pretty soon, good cops leave,
and many that remain become brutal.
They start off, usually, with rough justice.
They kill a drug dealer that they think would be let off by the corrupt courts.
But over time, the worst of them realize that there will be no repercussions
from the politicians they're in bed with,
and they go into business for themselves.
In Venezuela, nearly one in three murders is by the security services.
Now, the poor are hit hardest by violence all over the world,
but they're hardly going to turn to such predatory cops for help.
So they tend to form vigilante groups.
But arm a bunch of 18-year-old boys,
and pretty soon, they devolve into gangs over time.
Other gangs come in, mafias come in,
and they offer to protect people from the other criminals
and from the police.
Unlike the state,
the criminals often try to buy legitimacy.
They give charity. They solve disputes.
Sometimes, they even build subsidized housing.
The last stage of privilege violence happens when regular people
start committing a significant portion of the murder.
Bar fights and neighborhood arguments turn deadly
when violence has become normal
and repercussions have evaporated.
To outsiders, the culture looks depraved,
as if something is deeply wrong with those people.
But any country can become this violent
when the government is, by turns, absent and predatory.
Actually, that's not quite true --
it takes one more step for this level of violence to reign.
It takes mainstream society
to ignore the problem.
You'd think that would be impossible,
that violence at this level would be unbearable,
but it's actually quite bearable to people like you and me.
That's because, in every society in the world,
even the most violent,
violence is highly concentrated.
It happens to people on the wrong side of town,
people who are poor, often darker,
often from groups that are marginalized,
groups that mainstream society can separate ourselves from.
Violence is so concentrated
that we're shocked when the pattern deviates.
In Washington, DC, in 2001,
2001 年， 在华盛顿哥伦比亚特区，
a young white college-educated intern
went missing after a hike in Northwest DC,
and her case was in the papers nearly every day.
On the other side of town,
a black man had been killed every other day that year.
Most of those cases never made the papers even once.
Middle class society buys their way out of violence.
We live in better neighborhoods.
Some people buy private security.
And we also tell ourselves a story.
We tell ourselves that most of the people who are killed
are probably involved in crime themselves.
By believing that somehow some people deserve to be murdered,
otherwise good people allow ourselves to live
in places where life chances are so deeply skewed.
We allow ourselves.
Because, after all, what else can you do?
Well, it turns out, quite a lot.
Because violence today is not largely the result of war
but is because of rotten politics in our democracies,
regular voters are the greatest force for change.
Consider the transformation of Bogotá.
In 1994, Colombia's incoming president
was caught taking millions of dollars in campaign contributions
from the Cali drug cartel,
and the capital was overrun with gangs and paramilitary groups.
But fed-up voters overcame really rabid partisanship,
and they delivered nearly two-thirds of the vote
to an independent candidate,
enough to really overcome business as usual.
On Mayor Mockus's first day in office,
the police barely bothered to even brief him on homicide,
and when he asked why, they just shrugged and said,
"It's just criminals killing criminals."
The corrupt city council
wanted to give police even more impunity for brutality.
It's a really common tactic that's used worldwide
when politicians want to posture as tough on crime
but don't actually want to change the status quo.
And research shows it backfires all over the world.
If you throw a lot of low-level offenders into jails,
usually already overcrowded jails,
they learn from each other and they harden.
They start to control the prisons, and from there, the streets.
Instead, Mockus insisted that police begin investigating every death.
He fought the right-wing city council,
and he abandoned SWAT-style police tactics.
And he fought the left-wing unions
and fired thousands of predatory cops.
Honest police were finally free to do their jobs.
Mockus then challenged citizens.
He asked the middle class to stop opting out of their city,
to follow traffic laws
and otherwise behave as if they shared the same community of fate.
He asked the poor to uphold social norms against violence,
often at immense personal risk.
And he asked the wealthy to give 10 percent more in taxes, voluntarily.
Sixty-three thousand people did.
And at the end of the decade that spanned Mayor Mockus's two terms in office,
homicide in Bogotá was down 70 percent.
People in places with the most violence,
whether it's Colombia or the United States,
can make the biggest difference.
The most important thing we can do is abandon the notion
that some lives are just worth less than others,
that someone deserves to be raped or murdered,
because after all, they did something,
they stole or they did something to land themselves in prison
where that kind of thing happens.
This devaluing of human life,
a devaluing we barely admit even to ourselves,
is what allows the whole downward spiral to begin.
It's what allows a bullet shot in a gang war in Rio
to lodge in the head of a two-year-old girl
climbing on a jungle gym nearby.
And it's what allows a SWAT team hunting for a meth dealer in Georgia
to throw a flash bang grenade into the crib of a little boy,
exploding near his face and maiming him for life.
The fact is, most violence everywhere
happens to people on the wrong side of town
at the wrong time,
and some of those people are from communities
that we consider quite different.
Some of them are people who have done horrible things.
But reducing violence begins with privileging every human life,
both because it's right
and because only by prizing each life as worthy of at least due process,
can we create societies in which the lives of innocents are safe.
Second, recognize that today,
inequality within our countries
is a vastly greater cause of violence than war between countries.
Now, inequality leads to violence for a whole host of reasons,
but one of them is that it lets us separate ourselves
from what's happening on the other side of town.
Those of us who are middle-class or wealthy,
who are benefiting from these systems,
have to change them at immense cost to ourselves.
We have to pay enough taxes
and then demand that our governments put good teachers in other kids' schools
and well-trained police to protect other peoples' neighborhoods.
But, of course, that's not going to do any good
if the government is stealing the money or fueling the violence,
and so we also need better politicians with better incentives.
The fact is, we actually know a lot about what it takes to reduce violence.
It's policies like putting more cops
in the few places where most violence occurs.
But they don't fit easily into the boxes of the Left or the Right,
and so you need really honest politicians
who are willing to buck knee-jerk partisanship
and implement solutions.
And if we want good politicians to run,
we need to start respecting politicians.
There's also a lot we can do to fight privilege violence in other countries.
The most violent regimes tend to be fueled by drugs,
and then they launder the profits through financial systems
in New York and London,
through real-estate transactions,
and through high-end resorts.
know your supply chain top to bottom,
or admit the amount of pain you're willing to cause others
for your own pleasure.
Meanwhile, I would love to see one of those tourist sites
team up with investigative journalists
and create a little tiny icon --
在免费 WIFI 或者游泳池的标记旁边
right next to the one for free WiFi and if a place has a swimming pool,
there could be a little tiny gun
for "likely criminal money-laundering front."
if you're booking a place in a dangerous country,
whether that's Jamaica or New Orleans,
do a little web research,
see if you can see any criminal ties.
And, to make that easier,
that makes our financial systems more transparent --
things like banning anonymous company ownership.
Now, this all probably sounds pretty quixotic,
kind of like recycling your cans,
just a tiny drop in the ocean of a gigantic problem,
but that's actually a misconception.
Homicide has been falling for centuries.
Battle deaths have been dropping for decades.
In places where people have demanded change,
violent death has fallen, from Colombia to New York City,
where homicide is down 85 percent since 1990.
从 1990 年至今， 杀人案已经减少了 85%。
The fact is, violence will always be with us,
but it's not a constant.
It has been falling for centuries, and it could fall further faster.
Could it drop by 25 percent in the next quarter century, a third?
它是否能在下一个二十五年内 减少 25%，或是三分之一？
Many of us actually think it could.
I think of all the kids who'd grow up with their dads,
all the families that get their sisters back,
All it needs is one small push.
It needs us to care.