Living in New Zealand: Violence

I’m often asked whether or not I think that Kiwis are less violent than Americans.

The answer is yes.  And no.

More accurately: it depends.

What do you mean by violence?  Do you mean something measurable, like a statistic?  If so, then yes, Americans are more violent (and this is where the importance of context comes into play – don’t misunderstand me).  In 2010, there were 1.76 (intentional) murders per 100,000 people in New Zealand.  The US had a rate more than 2 1/2 times that of 4.8 per 100,000 people.  Yipes.

But that isn’t the question.  The question is “Are Kiwis less violent than Americans?”.

I don’t think so.  I happen to think that people are pretty much the same the world over in terms of how good we can be and how rotten we can be.  The phrase, “But for the grace of God, go I” comes to mind.

I also think that there’s such a thing as recognizing that those tendencies for violence exist and then doing what you can to safeguard against them.  The US could use some brushing up in that area, in my opinion.  I still see violence in NZ, but the number of times where that violence results in death is lower.

Why?  I have my opinions on the matter, one of which has to do with the US approach toward gun control vs. the Kiwi approach.  I’ll give you one guess as to who’s approach I favor, but that’s a post for another day.

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