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The Culture of Violence

January 16, 2013

We live in a time of violence. There are shootings in America, stabbings in London and war all over the world. In the 20th century there were two world wars, during which millions of soldiers and civilians were killed and injured, and that doesn’t include those killed in the Holocaust. The 21st century has seen some horrific events during its first 13 years. But why are we in such a violent culture? And, are we in the most violent time in history?

Why such a violent 21st century?

Video games and violent movies are what get blamed most often for the violent culture that is growing around us. Quentin Tarantino films often have fingers pointed at them, they are violent, but make you laugh, which not only puts humour with violence, but also puts violence into the minds of young people. No matter what the rating on games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty and various violent films, those under 18 will play and watch them. The question is, are these images having an adverse effect on children, are they making them more violent? Many people think so, but, I’m not so sure, I have watched these films, admittedly, not when I was young, but I can tell the difference between fantasy and reality, and I know what is right and what is wrong. This brings me onto my next reason for a violent culture: parenting and family values.

I have grown up with a balanced family life, maybe that is one of the reasons I can tell what is right and wrong, what is fantasy and reality. Many children don’t have the luxury of a happy childhood. The increasing trend is divorce, having children out of wedlock, multiple fathers, and parents who couldn’t care less about their children’s lives and educations. The family unit is on its way out, being replaced with step family members, which of course are not really a substitution. With these values disappearing, children are frustrated and with frustration comes violence, add this to a violent film or game and you have a violent culture.

Are we living in the most violent time in history?

My simple answer to this would be no. There are two other times in history, and by no means are there just these two, that can, in my opinion, be considered more violent than now.

The Middle Ages were a bit of a nasty time to live in, having said that, if I could live in any other time period it would be then. If you didn’t die of disease, then you may well have been put to death from a punishment for a crime that you may or may not have committed. If you were considered to be a witch, you may have been burned, among other punishments. And of course, fast forward a couple of hundred years and you would be burnt at the stake for being the wrong kind of Christian. Rape and murder were more common, as were other crimes, with no DNA testing, the culprit would have been far more difficult to catch.

The Middle Ages were nothing however to antiquity. The Romans were a very violent culture, their quest to take over the empire alone would have cost many lives. But, then there was slavery, gladiators, the violence of the arena used for entertainment. There is also archaeological evidence of infanticide, outside Roman brothels.

So, I don’t think we are living in the most violent point in time, there are other periods of history where far more violence was found. However, I do think we need to change the way our society is going. We need to look back in history at these violent times and make sure we don’t go back to it, because going back is not good for society or for the development and evolution of humankind. We may need to change things, look at how family values are and at the kinds of things children are exposed to and hopefully avoid our culture from sinking into a violent place once again.

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3 Comments
  1. Interesting post. I’ve had similar thoughts about past time periods. There’s an interesting talk on http://www.ted.com called “The surprising decline in violence” given by Steven Pinker. (Sorry, I couldn’t figure out how to link the talk in the comment box). But if you’re interested, you could easily find it. I thought it was very insightful. It discussed the time periods you were talking about, i.e. the Middle Ages, etc. I like your blog a lot! Now following! And thanks for reblogging my Othello post.

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