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However much we tend to idealize Iron Age Norse society, or pre-modern society as a whole, we shouldn't forget the downsides of living during the pre-modern era; we have the luxuary of being able to idealize it since we don't need to experience it in full. Likewise, we should be more mindful of the things in our time that we should be thankful for, but tend to take for granted.
For its time, ancient Norse society was probably relatively gender equal. As its pre-Christian view of the Cosmos didn't include many obvious hierarchies, it may also have been somewhat egalitarian even outside of gender roles. If you belonged to the group of people that counted, that is.
As with nearly all pre-modern agricultural societies, ancient Norse society was built on slavery. On the idea that a life could be owned. And that some lives were free to take, with divine mandate, should they displease the people in control. For example, archaeological finds at the Viking era trading town of Birka in Sweden, has in many ways changed the view of the well-ordered, prosperous-seeming trading community to that of a hierarchical, divided and shabby necropolis, with an economy built on forced labour. Likewise, archaeology (and other scientific fields) paint a pretty bleak picture when it comes to the usage of violence in ages past. Whether one considers our hunter-gatherer ancestors or people during much later ages of Man, such as the Iron Age, the abundant use of brute force is evident; a great many remains show lethal wounds inflicted by fellow human beings. To find even one such mortal wound in contemporary graves, one would have to dig up hundreds or thousands of them.
This highlights one of the universal trends in history: we are getting ever more civilized and our usage of violence is steadily decreasing. Two world wars may have put their dents in this global trend, and the war in Syria has had an impact, but however horrid these conflicts, our statistical march towards a peaceful society goes on. Contrary to common belief, statistics seldom lie ... but too often they are conveniently ignored, or misused, by people, networks and organisations with prejudices or an agenda to sow fear.
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