Recently, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) released a study that showed Maine as being the most peaceful state in the US and Louisiana as being the least peaceful state in the US. The group based their research study on data compiled from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, focusing primarily on several factors including homicide rates, jailed population percentage, and the availability of small arms. The IEP’s peace ranking comes on the tail of a study released in 2010 by Businessweek.com listing Louisiana as the laziest state (not work-related lazy, but laid back relaxed lazy). I’ll be the first to admit this ranking was somewhat disappointing. I didn’t want to seem ignorant so I did my research. I discovered that there is some truth to the IEP’s ranking. In 2010, Louisiana ranked third on the most violent states list. This was worse than California and Michigan which combined, have five of 2010’s most dangerous cities. I don’t want to give the impression that Louisiana is the Eden of the US, but it is sure much better than many other states with multiple metropolitan cities.
As a person who was born and raised in Louisiana, I’m not sure what to make of this ranking by the IEP. I’m sure that there are plenty who can and would argue that in some Louisiana metro areas, there is quite a bit of violence, but that can be said of any state with multiple major metropolitan areas. There are a number of correlating reasons why Louisiana received the lowest ranking including political, socioeconomic, and educational factors.
It can be shown that Louisiana has a large disparity in many of those areas that may contribute to our peace ranking. This however does not take away from the many good things Louisiana has to offer to its citizens and visitors. Louisiana is a shining example of recovery and resilience in the face of terrible circumstances. Unlike most states in the Union, Louisiana is experiencing economic growth and development despite losing a lot after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Gustav, and the horrible BP oil spill. We still produce some of the best culinary treats in the world, have the biggest party every year during Carnival and Mardi Gras season; and we can boast of having a Super Bowl Championship team in the New Orleans Saints.
In all honesty, Louisiana may fall short in many areas, but one thing is sure for those of us who live here. Louisiana is truly a great place to live and work and no peace ranking from any organization can take that away.