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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Culture, Life, Skepticism, Society | 2 comments

Violence is NEVER the Answer

I recently saw a video in which Patrick Stewart talked about violence against women and post-traumatic stress disorder.

So, here’s the the take home message.

VIOLENCE IS NEVER THE ANSWER.

To which some might ask, “What if someone is attacking me or my family?”

We’re not saying you shouldn’t defend you and your family if attacked.  But the violence isn’t being initiated by you either.  Violence isn’t the answer… but what is the question?

Why has someone (individual, group, organization, city, state, or country) resorted to violence in the first place?  That’s the question we should be asking ourselves.  We’re not saying, in the heat of the moment, roll over and let yourself be hurt.

But I have to ask, what is it that begat the violence… not from you, but from the attacker.  Is the person hungry?  Do they have no money?  Do they have an addiction problem and want to score another hit?  Are they desiring a material thing that you happen to have?  Are they just nuts?

All of these issues that I just described are failures of our society.  Instead of helping those in need, we tend to vilify them.  “Damn panhandlers should just get a job.”

My wife, with a Master’s degree, 7 years of teaching experience and 10 years of experience in managing a non-profit (including grant writing) can’t get a job.  How in the hell can a guy who just got out of prison on a drug charge get  job?  It’s not going to happen.

Deal with the individual’s addiction problem, not his addiction target.  People who have addictive personalities will just find something else to burn their life on.  I know this for a fact.  I’ve seen it in my own family.

Hunger is a huge issue, even in first world countries.  According to some reports, 1 in 6 Americans are food insecure… meaning that they aren’t 100% sure when or where there next meal is coming from.

A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation.

Wikipedia – Food Security

Who wouldn’t threaten or commit a little violence to make sure your kid has something to eat once a day?

Material things?  Are just that… stuff.  I speak from privilege here because I have stuff now.  Growing up, I had some stuff.  I didn’t have everything.  But I had new clothes (mostly) and some toys at Christmas.  Even so, I think we have a lot of stuff we don’t need.  I don’t need a new car and I won’t for at least a decade or so.  What would I even do with another one?  I can only live in one place at a time.  Why do I need another house?

We live in a culture that has glorified stuff.  Talk about your false idols.  We worship stuff.  I get it, I am totally a part of that society.  But maybe, just maybe, our society is simply wrong.  Ideally, we (somehow) make it to a post-scarcity society.  Technology reduces stuff to how much you can actually store and use.  When we’re not using, it’s recycled into raw materials and created again, the next time we need it.

But when a kid kills another kid for a pair of shoes (this was last year too)? What the hell is wrong with our society?

I can’t even begin to describe how fundamentally screwed up this is.

No, violence isn’t the answer.  But we don’t know what the real answer is because know one is asking the question.

Why are people turning to violence?

Are they deprived of some fundamental part of life (food, shelter, safety)?

Are they damaged or ill in some way (addicted, PTSD)?

How our society somehow made them feel inferior because they can’t get the damn shoes?

When someone turns to violence… and the above applies to leaders of countries as much as the bully at the local middle school… there is something wrong.  By not treating the underlying issue, we are making the problem worse.

 

  • Gregory Shefler

    Try a visit to a few bars and nightclubs, particularly ones in nice middle class communities (Seaside NJ, for example). Fistfights are a regular occurrence there, and these patrons aren’t there begging for food or nursing emotional wounds at the bar. These men and women (yes, girl fights are common as well) are about as “privileged” as you can get, and yet there they are, making fools of themselves. Hell, Seaside NJ gets shut down on occasion just because the fights get too numerous.

    I’ve observed and occasionally broken up some of these fights (don’t ask) over the years, and it seems they are more about the thrill than anything else. I’ve even had one or two instances where some guy actually would walk up to me or a friend and try to start a fight- for clear reason except for the rush. Again, these are well-off white kids spending their parent’s money at the clubs and not some desperate person.

    I can tell you that, having been involved in fistfights (no, I don’t pick them), that there is a adrenaline rush and excitement that isn’t much different from any other thrill-seeking endeavor. I imagine that some people just want to get that type of rush. It also helps that these people usually seem to choose smaller opponents to goad into an engagement- a form of bullying.

    On a final note, I disagree about the “never” part. Try to stand by and wait for police when some 220lb guy is brutally beating someone who weighs 50+ pounds less. I find it absolutely immoral not to interfere violently- you can’t talk these types of people out of violence when they are already landing blows on a helpless person.

    • SmilodonsRetreat

      1) Yes, I consider boxing, thrill-seeking by hurting others, etc to be a failure of our society. We think we, as a species, are so smart and so advanced, but we aren’t.

      2) Responding to violence with violence, sadly, is about the only way that we can effectively deal with the situation. Again, I’m not saying that we should stand by and let people be hurt or killed.

      What I am saying is that we need to find out why people choose to be violent, especially when there’s no obvious cause. Bullying, harassment to encourage a fight, etc… all failures of our society and our species.