Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Do Something About Violence

This is a very broad subject and overlaps other issues, so I will try to look at the violence perpetrated by individuals and supposedly non-militant groups - like gangs, etc.

You may think the times are more violent than ever. We see all kinds of violence every day, over and over.

Bombings, terrorist attacks, shootings, muggings, rapes, assaults, domestic violence, child abuse. We see all of it daily, in our own homes. Now THAT is unusual. I mean, for most of us we personally don't see violence directly. But today we see it in our living rooms on TV, in newspapers, movies, etc. It looks to be the first response to anger too often.

For hundreds of years only certain people were directly involved in violence, either as perpetrator or victim. Soldiers, for instance, were involved in violence. But even for them, when they were not making war, when they were living as civilians, violence was not a common part of their lives,

People then didn't have televisions that daily exposed them to violence. They didn't even have movies that put them in the midst of violent scenes.

Yes, you could read stories that included violence. But not everyone could read. And not every reader chose to read about violence. There was much less exposure to violence than today. And when it did occur, it was shocking.

Today, however, it no longer it shocks. And THAT'S a problem. You see, violence becomes more acceptable and more folks choose it. Violent language no longer shocks as it once did. And words are a powerful influence on behavior.

When I was in high school, sixty years ago, a gun in school was unheard of. Violent language was not tolerated. When boys would occasionally flare up and start a fight, it was not at school. They knew the consequences would be swift. And they never used weapons.

Kids now carry knives, often have guns, and emulate what they see on t.v. Even fashion takes on the look of gangsters. Young people are encouraged to become violent. Is it any wonder that it continues to appear in the news and films? And as violence is so much in the forefront of our experience it is more and more acceptable.

So what can we do about violence? We must address the culture of violence that exists today. Individually and in organizations we must object to violence in all forms. That won't be popular. Are you up to that? Refuse to purchase anything that reflects violence. Refuse to use or to tolerate violent language. And teach anger management that offers better choices of behavior to deal with disputes.

Sounds simplistic, I know. And it won't turn things around in a tight circle. But, remember the drops of water on the stone? And when we teach our children, our family, our friends, and groups we are active in, the importance of these changes the circle widens. And the stone will wear away. 

What changes can you make? What might you be willing to do to reduce violence? What other ideas do you have about it?

The Dali Lama said:

Just as heat dispels cold, loving-kindness counters anger. We need to learn how to counter our various emotions. Distraction is just a temporary measure. The longer lasting remedy is to be able to see positive qualities in something or someone you otherwise see as negative. Since there is rarely any justification for destructive emotions, we need to become aware of what gives rise to them and what the antidotes are.


  1. As the mother of a teenage boy in a large metropolitan area, I worry about him getting involved in gangs. No amount of money or sheltering will prevent it. What he needs is self esteem/self reliance. If we can teach our kids they don't "need", that would go a long way toward youth violence. And they don't need most of the stuff they have. They don't need approval from peers. They don't need to be perfect or get great grades. They "need" to be prepared for the real world, and if they are prepared they won't need gangs.

    Beyond that, we, as adults of ALL ages, need to be mindful of our own behaviors. Do we accept or even perpetuate violence? I have restricted my son from any video game where he is "the bad guy". Even some of the cartoon based games allow virtual badness. We also need to keep our negative opinions truth based and respectful. We talk a great deal about politics, and it's SO hard to not call some of the front-runners names. But it is perfectly ok to point out a lie, or bad choice as long as you can verify it from a legitimate source (the internet at large is not a legitimate source, by the way).

    And surprisingly, I believe that if we set limits/consequences we can follow through with, eventually people will learn there are limits. Sometimes I wonder if people really think there are no limits!

    1. Excellent point about learning the difference between want and need. We in the West have been creating generations that believe they need everything they want. Just look at how many THINGS we give children, even at a very early age.

      And we don't even teach them to work for what they want or need. They grow up believing the deserve everything they want.

      Just because we CAN provide much to a child doesn't mean it is good for them to do so. We end up raising takers rather than givers. And takers often will take using violence.

      Right on, Robin!