The first order in the statistical slide into less crime – since 1990, violent crime has been falling in a precipitous way in Canada – is to understand demographic reality. Males between the ages 15 to 35 years of age commit the bulk of it with the 25 to 30 year olds committing most of the murders. For instance, if the Canadian baby boom started in 1947 and they committed only negligible violent crime after they turned 35 years of age yet represented a startling 1/3 of the population, then you could forecast the peaking of violent crimes in the 70 and 80s and a decreasing of it in the 90s and beyond. This is exactly what we’ve seen. In 2007, Canada’s crime rate was the lowest in 25 years; in fact national homicide rates had fallen to their lowest level since the late 60s. Toronto, bordering on 5 million people is the third safest city (over 100,000 in population) in the country, behind only Quebec City and Trois Rivieres. The crime rate continues to be higher in rural than in urbane areas and the recidivism rate gets better even as the prison population gets older. In this time frame, USA’s rates were falling as well, and for the same reason.
How does Canada hold up capital-crime wise compared to the states? Per capita, our rate is three times lower than the USA? In 2006, for instance Toronto murders numbered 2.5 in 100 thousand whereas Chicago with a larger but still comparable population was 16 in 100 thousand. (In 2013, Toronto murders totaled 56, Chicago's were 415); 2019 (78) (490) with slight increases in 2020 and 2021.
But What Does This Have To Do With Manners?
The Elizabethan court, printing press and merchant class came together to impact manners in one historied rush. It was a rich era for printed source materials, an age in which the up-and-coming bourgeoisie felt a need to acquire some social polish with how-to manuals on every subject and especially manners. For instance, Erasmus’ basic tenet was that good manners sprung from the ability to ignore the faults of others and avoid falling short of proper behavior in yourself. All of this is pointed out in, The Civilizing Process: The History of Manners and State Formation and Civilization: Norbert Elias. A brilliant theory about how simple manners over the decades civilized humankind as much as anything else. How manners led to an elevation in all of humanity which perhaps (ignoring our temporary lapses into colonialism, fascism and communism), slowly led even to the modern human rights movement. It is said that manners are a tactical way of dealing with strangers. The co-auxiliary to this is in law. How can we get all people to respect humanity? With manners, and with law; a balanced use of persuasion and force. People have a natural reason to do good and respect human rights, but there is no force to bring it about without the democratic nationhood of law and order, and of course, manners: demanding and expecting them from individuals elevates all humankind. Be polite, you might just be saving civilization, see also, Talking to Strangers and The Better Angels of our Nature.
In Elizabethan England, for men, public pissing (this was what it was called), was quite common. It soon became frowned upon. If you farted, you covered it up as best you could with a cough. Belching became completely out of the question. Touching your groin area became rude. Defecating while in the presence of others? Forget it.
Centuries ago in feudal times, murder was so common that there was no law against it, or at least it wasn’t codified. If you killed someone, you left the village or town, not because of any law but to avoid a feud or revenge from the Feudal Lord’s enforcers. Manners and murder evolved out of a similar elevation in the respect for all humankind, even, (or especially), for complete strangers. USA and Canadian differences in crime rate are a point in hand. America is a wealthier nation with a longer history of democracy but has indisputably, a higher capital crime rate. Its human rights record might be overestimated.
It seems stateside that race, emigrants, xenophobia and melting pot are all confused. A history of institutional slavery and racism have left it with the Cowboy Effect. Instigate first, investigate second. Black and white in moral temperament. Action, then reflection. As an example, the nation as a whole shows a discourtesy too common to non-Americans who criticize the American way of life. Manners? Often to the world, America as a nation seems alienated from them. With absolutely no statistical or scientific proof, it preaches that it is the best nation in the world. Imagine a neighbor like that?
We don’t have to. We’re there.
We love them, but self reflection isn’t their forte, just criticize the USA in an American bar and find out. In a general sense, however, an unprecedented brandishing of bad manners is inflicting Canada and the whole world. The safety line of property and human rights in the global economy is a thin line indeed. In years to come they might call this the unmannered first decade of an otherwise tumble down dumb century. Law abiding, debt paying, courteous citizenry maybe a thing of the past. Cloying consumerism, frivolous ergonomic expenses and an roll down of ridiculous lawsuits is a huge deadweight on the safety line of any society.
I Hope the Tumble-Down Doesn’t Become a Free Fall.
In Canada 18 or 19 percent of the population is non-white. They commit 23 or 24 percent of violent offences, which is disproportional. The surprising thing though is that the white Canadian perception is that 37 or 38 percent of all violent crime is committed by non-whites. This too, is disproportional. In Toronto where the non-white population might be as high as 50 percent, the expectation among whites is sometimes 70 or 80 percent. Overall non-whites commit 16 or 17 percent of all offences. This puts them more in the range one would expect. What this all says certainly has something to do with manners. If you’ve ever witnessed whites with these anticipations in race treat visible minorities rudely you certainly can see the correlation.
I hope people will meet their obligations and become better mannered in regards to strangers, especially while they are out in their cars or shopping. The future will be unbearable if not. I hope we evolve into a folk used to taking care of ourselves and being kind to others. I hope we never revert to a violent state of nature; life would hardly be worth living. A global reform movement is afoot. But you must do your part. Be polite, pay your bills and try to keep your commitments. Advocate solvency and good manners, they have much to do with democracy and human rights.
© 2022 - E. A. St. Amant