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Research so far and the religious face of terror today provide strong evidence that the solution to the phenomenon of terror will not come through war among monotheisms. The reason is not that religion is inherently violent. Most religious people in fact actively pursue and practice peace as a desirable end in itself. (See: Buddhism, Hope, Peace and Links to Peace). Rather, terror occurs because there are extremists in each of the monotheisms who would impose their will by force. Their motives are not entirely religious, but religion plays too strong a role. The Taliban and < a href=""> Wahhabis provide contemporary examples. Like the Marshall Plan (economic recovery), the growth of NATO (security), the European Union and NAFTA (modernization and globalization), social action is an idea whose time has come. To summarize possibilities:
  • acknowledge that terror will not just end with a military victory somewhere; find new solutions; reform how we deal with violence and terror.
  • employ Dialogue in all these processes instead of emotional arguments
  • confront leaders of the Monotheisms with the record of religious violence throughout history that shows a tight correlation with monotheisms compared with the Eastern Philosophies and Religions; encourage them to find explanations for that fact; encourage them to revise any teachings implicated with terror; encourage each to reform as necessary; encourage them to do this cooperatively in dialogue altogether. Expect huge resistance to this idea; for that very reason, plan in terms of generations if necessary; patience and very stubborn persistence from the secular quarters is required.
  • stop being politically expedient for the short term--instead support strategies known to be effective for the longer term; start looking for the real answers in the Rosetta Stone even as we add to it.
  • stop shooting from the hip--employ what we know; starting with the Varshney findings on integration.
  • start comparative research between and among societies, implement any new findings.
  • stop relying on religion--it has not worked historically; faith, however vital to the individual, is too often divisive across groups. Religious leaders have a challenge here; moderate and eliminate extremism or admit fostering it. Secular leaders have a similar challenge; moderate hatred, bigotry, and racism by implementing ethnic integration and stable democracy.

For two millennia, religion has been just as misused as it has been used to further the cause of peace. It is time for a new approach. We must look to the moderate secular elements of world societies.

Peace can not come quickly, even with the wisest leadership. Leadership is woefully lacking today, except possibly those whose native tongue is Norwegian or Chinese. We include the Chinese, because, in spite of their internecine strife, they have been neither conquerors nor imperialists; they have and are making great strides toward modernity with relatively little internal upheaval. The long historical view of the Chinese puts them firmly in the peaceful camp among nations.

Norwegian leadership in peace is legendary. Norwegian culture deserves further study. Only by comparing what is different among various countries can we sort out possible causes and subject them to test. In other words, emulate the Varshney study on a global scale. There may be variables beyond those he found.

To begin, we ask why are the crime rates so disparate within and among among societies? The following tables highlight how the US compares with other nations, and how we compare with ourselves.

Crime rate per 100,000 people

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National Crime Rates per 100,000 People

Why is it that Finland, Portugal, Japan, and Norway are tens to hundreds of times less violent than the US, Spain and Denmark? Answer this question and you will have some keys for reducing violence. The problem, of course, will be to acknowledge and implement them.

Some two million people in the US are now behind bars. That is about one person in 150. Something like half of those in prison are there for victimless crimes. American society can do better than to wait for crime and then punish it. It can discover factors causing crime and fix them. It can put victimless crime in better perspective. While our murder rate has decreased steadily for many years, our prison population continues to grow. Why?

Percentage difference between US and the extremes follow:

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Violent America Compared with Peaceful Nations
% of Highest
% Above Lowest

The designer of this reference site understands the difference between cause and effect, something rarely true for politicians of any stripe--no matter how avidly they pursue a cause or make a case.

However one might question these statistics, the evidence is conclusive that the US is a most violent nation relative to those nations reporting in sufficiently consistent fashion.

Data below compare global suicide.

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Global Suicide Rates per 100,000
<15 15-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65-74 >74
World 0.8 12.3 18.0 22.6 25.1 25.4 27.8 37.2
Male 1.2 19.2 28.3 34.7 39.7 41.0 41.5 55.7
Female 0.5 5.6 7.7 8.4 10.5 11.8 14.1 18.8
US ~2 10.3 13.5 14.4 14.2 12.4 13.6 18.7
Male   17.2 22.3 22.6 22.0 20.2 25.0 46.6
Female   3.1 4.8 6.4 6.7 5.2 4.2 4.6

While still too high, the US suicide rate compares more favorably with the world.

Violence in American Cities.

US citizens act out their anger against others to an extreme degree compared with how they express it toward themselves. Being free to own guns whose sales are poorly controlled is part of the problem. For the years 1991-1998, 70% of all murders in the US were accomplished by guns.

A "cowboy mentality" could be a second reason why crime in America is out of control.

Time also has an effect. During the decade beginning in 1962 the murder rate in the US more than doubled, from 4.8 to 9.0 per 100,000. Finally, and most importantly, the city you live in matters. Washington DC ranks among the highest rates on earth. The following table captures the situation in 2002 in decreasing order of incidence.

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Violence per 100,000 in US Cities Ranked
City Population Murders/100,000
Washington DC 571,822 45.8
Detroit 956,283 42.0
Baltimore 660,826 38.3
Memphis 655,898 24.7
Chicago 2,910,709 22.2
Philadelphia 1,518,302 19.0
Columbus 712,748 18.1
Milwaukee 601,229 18.0
Los Angeles 3,763,486 17.5
Dallas 1,215,553 15.8
Phoenix 1,366,542 13.4
Las Vegas 1,117,763 13.0
Houston 1,997,965 13.0
Jacksonville 754,679 11.9
Nashville 555,059 11.4
Charlotte 636,459 10.5
Indianapolis 798,251 10.4
Boston 591,944 10.1
Tucson 503,461 10.1
Ft Worth 546,828 9.7
Denver 569,653 9.3
San Antonio 1,170,622 8.5
Oklahoma City 507,517 8.5
San Francisco 791,168 7.3
New York 8,023,018 7.3
Seattle 572,345 4.5
Portland 537,081 3.9
San Diego 1,246,136 3.8
Austin 671,462 3.7
San Jose 913,513 3.1
El Paso 576,453 2.4
Honolulu 885,605 2.0

Above table is from the FBI. Note that our nation's capital has an incidence of murder more than 20 times that of Honolulu or El Paso. City sizes are comparable.

If we want to look for clues to peaceful living, we might start right here at home. Honolulu and El Paso, from our personal experience, seem to welcome ethnic integration to a greater extent than do Washington or Baltimore.

There are likely other variables that can be unearthed by scientific methods. These statistics and the micro-societies they arise from provide a Rosetta Stone. Learning how to read or interpret the information is quite another matter, and it is not one for politicians. They love to relive and distort history, not revolutionize it.

The need for research along just such lines accomplished by Varshney in India is evident. His methodology will work here even though findings may differ somewhat. Varshney went to great pains to insure his data were representative. He explored firsthand the issues that separate causation from mere correlation. Presumably, the US data is more uniform.

Once the Rosetta Stone is understood, any conclusions or any interpretation could be subject to politicization in any of various ways, during, and after the analyses. The UN is the most capable organization to launch such a similar worldwide study. It is high time. At this juncture it is hard to know whether religious, or national interests are the larger barrier to progress along this line.

Since many nations of the world, not listed above, do not keep statistics in a uniform manner, all must cooperate to generate a meaningful and consistent basis if we are to validate conclusions. The key there is the openness and cooperation each participating society can muster. For further research, see:

Taking Action

    It is hardly possible to overrate the value...of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar.…Such communication has always been, and is peculiarly in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress. John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873)

[Mill foretold the results of Varshney in a positive sense, and which America practiced before becoming polarized.]

Decide for yourself if it matters that our nation's capital is a hotbed for crime. Decide for yourself why. Enlist your friends. Then take your messages to:
  • International ANSWER Antiwar activism site.
  • International Peace Resource Center
  • Moveon Joan Blades and Wes Boyd. "MoveOn helps busy people be effective citizens. MoveOn is committed to broadening participation to counter the influence of moneyed interests and partisan extremes."
  • Truth Out Make a difference.
  • United for Peace and Justice "United for Peace and Justice is a coalition of more than 650 local and national groups throughout the United States who have joined together to oppose our government's policy of permanent warfare and empire-building."


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