|Romans 3: 31|
How wild was the “wild west”?
How “civilized” is the world today?
How an era, people, government, etc., is viewed is dependent on how they are depicted in the news, popular media and how historians write about them.
The words used can cast a dark shadow over an entire people, and those words may not always be accurate or even honest.
Accurate statistics, on the other hand, usually portray a clearer picture despite popular opinions or popular forms of art (movies, novels, some history books of the world).
Similar to first impressions (first impressions not always being 100% accurate), a single narrative of any person, or a certain time in U.S. history, doesn't always paint a complete and truthful picture.
When exploring 'how' life was in the frontier lands in America during the expanse west of the Mississippi, many people have in mind what is usually depicted in popular films.
Hundreds of movies have been made that give the viewer an impression that at almost any moment a gun fight would break out.
The manner the natives were perceived by frontiersman and colonialists were usually exaggerated and overtly bias.
Both movies and some history books show natives of the Americas to be villainous and wild, yet the nature of the dynamic between the ancient culture of the native and the modern manners of the immigrant colonialist was usually one-sided.
Encroachment into native regions was usually justified, and when agreements were broken or altered for yet another time, the native's grievance was usually met with more violence 'because of' the native.
The strong always have their way with the weak, and history has shown this to be the reoccurring way of the world.
This is a typical repeating reality of this world's history.
So, was the “wild west” truly rampant with outlaws, murderers and such?
Was it more dangerous in those days 150 to 200 years ago west of the Mississippi than our modern and seemingly more civil times in America?
Was society possibly more lawful and thus more ordered and respectful of life than today?
Yes and no.
I think the overall civilizing of the entire world is headed in the right direction with certain hiccups and setbacks (wars, genocides, riots, etc.).
The Culture of Violence in the American West: Myth vs Reality is great article to read for a narrative adjustment (must read for a historical adjustment regarding U.S. history narratives).
Here's an important news article that explains the ups and downs of the homicide rate, and why the fluctuations.
Look at Figure 1 (page 12 of 15) at this link to see an interesting graph showing a dip in the homicide rate in the U.S., and then a return to the previous trend...this particular paper is what the news article is based on.
Read that article to find out what some people suspect as “why” the rate dropped...and why it returned.
And what about the rest of the world?
How are people behaving in the age of the internet, rights and liberty?
Look at the list of homicide rates of most countries.
Scroll down to the large chart and toggle / click the arrows below “Rate” to see the lowest rated countries, then click again to see the highest.
Although the mainstream news media highlights murders and disasters on a daily basis (being part of their business model to attract viewership), the world has examples of people living at relative peace with one another, even in America where people of a multitude of backgrounds have been arriving to its shores for several generations, yet the homicide rate is not as extreme as in other places.
Could it be the focus on law and order?
Could it be the opportunity to seek out a decent living for those who make the effort?
Could it be upward mobility regardless of heritage or background?
Could it be the education?
Many may be the answers.
What do you think?