Most violent acts committed in modern times are seen as unthinkable and heinous. Today’s culture appears to be at its most serene and peaceful. However, this may not be true. Today’s culture is still one of extreme violence and is comparable to some of history’s most horrific times. Over the course of history, violence in culture has been in fluctuation but has always been considerably aggressive. Modern violent culture is comparable to history’s as society’s forms of entertainment are still violent, racial, domestic, and religious.
Disputes still occur and lastly, war and cruel punishments still exist in the world. Fortunately, there is hope as violence, although still existing, seems to be improving and slowly diminishing. Over time, modern forms of entertainment appear to have changed. However; it can be disturbing the similarities in which violence appears to be a common factor throughout history. Rome is said to be the birthplace of violent entertainment. Some historians suggest that we should not be surprised by their violent games and competitions because the Romans were at war throughout their history.
Ancient Rome is infamous for their gladiatorial battles; battles in which men were forced to fight one another to the death. Many gladiators were prisoners of war, criminals or slaves. Thousands of people would watch as these men were thrown into the fight against their will. Women would even attend these events and watch men fight to the death. This would first appear to us as shocking, but today’s society is attracted to films indicating this exact behavior. The film Gladiator is about a general whose family is murdered by a prince and this man becomes a gladiator to seek revenge.
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This movie won 5 Oscars as well as numerous other awards. This is undeniable evidence that society has not changed when it comes to these sorts of things. They still watch the same forms of violence. In Medieval times, crowds would come to watch the public executions of heretics and traitors. The crowds would chant and yell awaiting the death of the accused. The movie Kill Bill follows the story of a woman who was almost killed by a group of people working for her husband. This woman learns to fight and the only thing on her mind is to have revenge on the assassination team that betrayed her.
The entire point of the movie is supporting the woman in killing off each and every person involved in her attack. Just like the support given by crowds against deserving criminals, audiences support the character against the deserving criminals in her case. This movie was played worldwide and was top grossing during its time. This is even more evidence supporting the fact that culture has not changed a lot. In sixteenth-century Paris, a popular form of entertainment was cat-burning, in which a cat was hoisted in a sling on a stage and slowly lowered into a fire.
This of course seems repulsive to think of now, but today there are still cock fights, dog fights and bullfights. Bull fighting is a traditional spectacle of Spain, Portugal, some cities in southern France and in several Latin American countries. This form of entertainment involves one or more bulls being ritually killed in a bullring as a public spectacle. It can be considered a blood sport. Bull fighting is now becoming more controversial but is still seen as very respectable. Many people come to bullfighting arenas simply to watch animals being killed as a means of entertainment.
This is not very different from cat burning. Both are violent and should be unacceptable. In some ways, today’s culture is worse than the past. Even in history, murder was still wrong under the wrong circumstances. Other actions such as rape and abuse were still regarded as bad and could be punished. Today, the world has video games in which young boys and girls are exposed to this violence in a whole new way. They are given the opportunity to play the bad guy without actually committing the crime. This not only teaches these children that perhaps violence is okay, but what if one day, playing the game is not enough for them.
For example, there is a game called Phantasmagoria that was banned in various countries for “sexualized violence”. In no way should rape ever be drawn and put into a game. This is a new kind of violent entertainment that promotes violence in today’s culture. To use violence as a means of entertainment also promotes violence as okay in certain situations. Racial, religious and domestic disputes occur today all over the world and have been forever. Anti-Semitism has been in the world since Earth’s earliest civilizations and it continued extensively until the 1940s and resulted in the death of over 6 million Jews.
Violence occurred during the Crusades in the medieval times; during which religiously sanctioned military campaigns forcefully and violently fought to abolish other religions through violence and torture. These two events are similar in that they fought to abolish another group of human beings because one group thought they were more superior. Rwanda is filled with genocide and child soldiers. A child soldier lives their entire life violently. They are forced to murder and therefore grow up knowing nothing but that. The Muslims and the Jewish people in the Middle East still fight over land.
Today even in Canada there are ethnic disputes. Canada has two “founding nations”: the French and the English. Disputes occur between the French wanting to separate from Canada. It is only a matter of time before this dispute ends in violence. Slavery among cultures had always existed. The targets of slavery were minority groups. This had always been the case. It was not until 1834 that slavery was abolished in Canada and it would not be until 1863 that it was abolished in the USA. Today, southern states still experience extreme racism towards African Americans simply because they are a ‘minority’.
Although ethnic conflict may be inevitable in the modern world, prevention techniques such as understanding other cultures, recognizing warning signs of ethnic violence and developing a plan of action can lead to diplomatic settlements and can help to contain violent outbursts. There is hope to end the racial violence that still exists today. Education for all cultures is now abundant as well as human rights laws that work to prevent the harm of anyone due to their race. Another form of practiced violence in the world is domestic violence. Women seem to always be a target for violence.
In ancient Greece, women were practically prisoners in their own homes. They had no rights and they were owned by either their father or their husband. Thus, these men had the right to abuse them. In Medieval times, if a woman got pregnant and decided to attempt an abortion, they were subject to horrible methods of torture and eventual death. Today, the extent of violence slowly diminishes. However, women are generally still targets for abuse in relationships. Domestic violence occurs everywhere in Canada and in the States. Honour killings are still performed to this day in the Middle East.
An honour killing is when a woman is suspected of being unfaithful to their husbands, dressing inappropriately, engaging in homosexuality or wanting to be out of an arranged marriage. Women can be stoned to death or buried alive as well as other methods. Clearly this is a culture of violence when all of these things are still occurring. From racial disputes, to religious disagreements; from fights over territory to the abuse of women, violence occurs everywhere. In fact, violence will most likely survive until the end of human civilization. The most extreme form of violence and dispute is war.
It is almost as if the world is addicted to war; it is the ultimate power struggle. War is something that can influence an entire nation. It can turn people against another group of people and is the ultimate act of violence. Violence is inevitable in any culture. War however, is not. History is flooded with war. In fact, war continuously existed from Egyptian times until medieval times. There was no escape from that. A shred of hope for our future would include the fact that war did not exist in today’s culture. However, it still does. From land rights, to religious disputes to rivalries, war has always existed.
And today, the world continues to fight. The US led war to continue to exist in Iraq. The aim has been the destruction of Iraqi society enabling the US and Britain to gain control of Iraq's huge oil reserves. In five thousand years of hosting empires, the fertile valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers has endured many tyrannical regimes. Sumerians, Chaldeans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Macedonian Greeks, Seleucid Greeks, Romans, Parthians, Arabs, Mongols, Ottoman Turks, and the British have all passed through and left their mark, for good or ill.
Some, like the Assyrians, have come “like a wolf on the fold”; others have stayed long enough to build more than they destroyed. The Americans, are coming like the Assyrians. Currently, the war is not solving any problems. It’s a continual battle in hopes for some sort of end. Men are dying from Canada, the USA and from Iraq. Money that could be spent to better each of these countries is being used on the war. People back home are listening and waiting to hear about the next soldier that has died. Today, war is still an issue. War is what seemed to have made previous civilizations so unstable.
This culture may never truly be civilized until it learns that violence is a short term means to an end of a problem. As Bertrand Russell says, “War does not determine who is right, it determines who is left”. War is a similar factor in each of the civilizations prior to this one, and in this one. If war is eliminated, perhaps violence as a whole would be on its way out. Until then, today’s culture will be one of violence. Looking back at the past, mankind may take pride in the supposed lack of violence in the world today when comparing it to the past.
However, violence still exists almost as vividly and as evil as it once did. It will not be until mankind desires to rid itself of the unnecessary violence in its entertainment. It will not be until religious, racial and domestic disputes are abolished and everyone is equal that violence will be eliminated. And lastly, it will not be until war is no longer an option for solving problems and people come to diplomatic solutions will the world be rid of violence. Until that time, today’s culture and all the future ones to come will be ones of violence.
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