picture of Cain killing Abel Murder is alive and well
“Cain and Abel were sons of Adam and Eve in the biblical Book of Genesis. Cain, the firstborn, tilled the soil, and his brother Abel was a shepherd. The brothers made sacrifices to God, each of his own produce, but God favored Abel's sacrifice instead of that of Cain. Cain murdered Abel. God punished Cain to a life of wandering, but set a mark on him so that no man would kill him.” Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cain_and_Abel

“The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue, are a set of commandments which the Bible describes as having been given to the Israelites by God at biblical Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments are listed twice in the Hebrew Bible, first at Exodus 20:1–17, and then at Deuteronomy 5:4–21. Both versions state that God inscribed them on two stone tablets, which he gave to Moses.” Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments. (“Thou shall not kill,” is one of the Ten Commandments.)

Since our earliest recorded history, man has been killing his fellow man. Today, every nation has laws which prescribe punishment for individuals found guilty of murder. Additionally, many thousands of policemen are hired to prevent murder and other crimes.


In the United States, there are 16,238 murders each year; an average of 44 murders per day. Source: https://www.bing.com/. The United States has a higher murder rate than some countries but lower than others. Further, large cities experience a higher murder rate than smaller cities.

Analyzing the statistics

What causes a high murder rate?

  • Lack of jobs. People who do not work are more likely to steal from others. The act of stealing often leads to violence, including murder.
  • Poor education opportunities. People who are not well-educated lose hope in their future because they cannot get good paying jobs. Many parents don’t appreciate education and fail to instill the desire to learn into their children. This creates a vicious cycle in which illiteracy is the norm.
  • Low self-esteem. Not feeling good about yourself leads to depression and anger. Envying other people’s success can lead to murder.
  • Influx of drugs. No matter what social class you belong to, drug addiction will destroy your will power. Drug addicts sell their possessions, trade their bodies, or steal to get more drugs. Addicts will even murder in order to feed their drug addiction.
  • Large gang populations. Exercising peer pressure, gangs persuade its members to commit crimes including murder. Gang members kill anyone who opposes their illegal activities. Innocent bystanders are also killed as collateral damage.
  • Crimes of passion. Jealousy and road rage are two examples where a person’s anger toward another reaches a point where words are not enough. Included are honor killings which are defined as, “the homicide of a member of a family, due to the perpetrators' belief that the victim has brought shame or dishonor upon the family, or has violated the principles of a community or a religion.” Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor_killing. Premeditation is absent from crimes of passion but the victim is dead all the same.
  • Terrorism. This is a growing phenomenon in our society. One group decides that it is okay; even necessary to kill members of another group. Terrorists often use religion as the authority for murder. Some domestic terrorists use other justification such as political differences for their criminal behavior.
  • Granting parole to criminals. The recidivism rate is about 60% for violent offenders. Source: https://www.bjs.gov/content/reentry/recidivism.cfm. Prisons are overcrowded and many soft-hearted and well-intentioned people believe criminals change over time. Some do change and become productive members of our society but most don’t.
  • Too many guns. Guns are relatively easy to get in America. For example, homes are burglarized and privately owned guns are stolen and used by criminals to commit crimes including murder. While guns are an easy means of committing murder, poison, vehicles, explosives, knives, sticks, and stones are also effective.
  • People no longer value human life. This is a sad commentary on our society. Murder scenes are shown on television. Video games encourage players to earn a higher score by killing the ‘enemy.’ Movies and books show people killing one another and even portraying the killer as a hero! Similarly, people who advocate abortion rights do not feel compassion when fetuses are killed. Many Americans are no longer shocked at the loss of human life.
  • Religion has been widely abandoned. The push by atheists to make us abandon our religious beliefs has resulted in banning prayer in public, removing religious symbols from public property, and in fewer people attending church. Our recent COVID pandemic has also contributed to lower church attendance. Regardless of religious denomination, people who believe in God are less likely to commit murder.
  • Widespread loss of the nuclear family. “A nuclear family or elementary family is a family group consisting of a pair of adults and their children. This is in contrast to a single-parent family, to the larger extended family, and to a family with more than two parents. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple; the nuclear family may have any number of children.” Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_family.

    Many children today do not have the benefit of role models in their homes. Without positive role models, these children will naturally follow others – some of whom are the dregs of our society.

It’s possible to come up with more reasons why we murder one another but I think these are the main causes.

Does punishment fit the crime?

The courts apply relevant laws and sentence convicted murderers to time in prison or execution. The severity of the crime, the year in which the crime occurs, the state in which the trial occurs, and the personal beliefs of the court members are factors which determine the sentence.

“More than 3,200 inmates in 36 states are awaiting execution. The U.S. government and U.S. military also have approximately 67 people awaiting execution. … Capital punishment is legal in 34 states.” Source: http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/22/justice/georgia-execution-fact-box/index.html

Arguments for and against the death penalty:

  • A death sentence is barbaric and does not represent a civilized society. (Many nations have stopped executing criminals.)
  • Executing criminals does not serve as a deterrent to future crime.
  • If a person is wrongly convicted, an innocent person will be executed. (This is why a convicted murderer can expect to spend many years on death row awaiting execution.)
  • Our society should not execute a convicted murderer who is mentally ill or whose Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is below average.
  • The death penalty is unevenly applied due to a man’s color.
  • Executions should be conducted in a humane manner (while refusing to acknowledge how the murderer’s victim(s) were killed and whether the victim(s) suffered before being killed.) People opposing methods used to carry out the death penalty use the term, “cruel and unusual punishment” in their arguments.
  • “Eye for an eye” is a common argument for the death penalty. Sources: Matthew 5:38-39, Exodus 21:24, and Romans 12:17-19.

In my opinion, our society will not rid itself of murder. The underlying causes of murder are just too great to overcome and we have lost access to vital tools which were effective in the past. Do we quit trying? No, uncounted numbers of lives are saved each year through the heroic efforts of many fine people and the use of new technology. Regretfully, in spite of our best efforts, 16,000 Americans are likely to be murdered this and every year in the foreseeable future.

Joe R. East, Jr.

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Updated 06/09/2023
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