Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Culture of Violence

The other day, a woman came up to me at a party and slapped me in the face simply because I had lied about her behavior in public, and maybe stole a little money from her dresser late one night. I had also started up with her best friend, and told her other friends that she was a lesbian.

Oh yeah, I kind of took her apartment in Malibu away from her and didn't give it back.

Anyway, I immediately pulled out my 38 and shot her on the spot.

Although most of the guests at the party were a little shocked at it all, there was complete agreement among all eight of them that I had the right to defend myself.

The host of the party, said it best, "If that bitch can't control her emotions, she needed to be taught a lesson".

Somehow, I don't think that even my most authoritarian personality former friends would accept this scenario.

Yet, they have no problem accepting it from their "Dear Leader".

They seem to be comfortable with his blame game and his war pimping. But, the problem here is not assessing blame. It is a paper thin veneer of words stretched over a grotesque corpus of anger, hate, and distrust.

As the Buddhist once said,

There is plenty of blame in the World.

So don't worry about it so much.

No, the problem here is violence and the use of organized violence by

terror states and other terror organizations.

As the Christian Savior says,

We cannot solve our differences by taking an eye or a tooth.

We can only soothe our hurts by doing good to others.

This is not just a nice way to be, or a good idea,

It is fundamental sociophysics.

Here is Arun Gandhi on nonviolence.

Nonviolence – The Only Hope
By Arun Gandhi

It is difficult to reconcile Gandhian thought with the modern theory that nonviolence is simply a strategy of convenience. In the words of Mohandas Karamchand, Gandhi nonviolence “is not a coat that you can wear today and take off tomorrow.”

Although Gandhi emphasized the need for spirituality in the practice of nonviolence that was not the only reason why he believed nonviolence must be a way of life.

For Gandhi living nonviolence was a practical necessity. Unless one lives it, one cannot practice nonviolence. Just as we are required to create a whole culture of violence around us to practice violence we need to create a culture of nonviolence around us to practice nonviolence.

The complexities of Gandhi’s nonviolence need to be understood holistically and not dogmatically. It is unfortunate that most scholars have looked at nonviolence only as the opposite of physical violence. We cannot appreciate the depths of nonviolence until we appreciate the breath of violence that is practiced in society today. Just as the absence of war is not peace, superficial calm in a society does not indicate the lack of turmoil and conflict.

If Gandhiji was concerned about freeing India from the Imperial clutches of Britain, he was more concerned about freeing human society from the stranglehold of the Culture of Violence. A culture that is so deep-rooted and pervasive that most of us have come to believe violence is our inherent nature.

There is a problem with this argument.

If violence is indeed our nature why do we need martial arts institutes and military academies to teach us to fight and kill? Why are we not born with these instincts?

The fact is, it is not violence that is our true nature but anger, the fuel that generates violence. Anger is, to use an electrical analogy, the fuse that warns us of a malfunction. However, sadly, we have learned to abuse anger instead of using it intelligently because the culture of violence is based on the need to control through fear.


In a selfish, self-centered world we ignore the plight of people, we continue to over consume the resources of the world and continue to create an economic imbalance and generate anger.

Passive violence is, therefore, the fuel that ignites physical violence so, logically, if we want to put an end to physical violence we have to cut-off the fuel supply.

We are building mega urban societies around the world that lack soul and substance. We ignore the basic question – can a society be cohesive, compassionate and caring if every member is taught to be selfish and self-centered?

Punishing the person instead of resolving the problem only aggravates physical violence in the form of crime and violence.


The story of the star fish has an appropriate moral lesson for us. A man once went early in the morning to the beach for a walk. Dawn was still minutes away from breaking. In the haze he saw a figure near the water’s edge picking something up and throwing it into the water. Out of curiosity he went to enquire and was told that during the night the tide came in and washed all the star fish ashore and when the sun comes out they will all perish.

The curious man looked at the shoreline and saw thousands of star fish stranded. He said: “You aren’t going to be able to save all these starfish so what difference is it going to make?”

The Good Samaritan was still busy throwing the star fish and had one in his hand that he was about to toss into the water as he turned and said:

“It will make a big difference to this guy."

We must reject the Culture of Violence.

It resides in the Consciousness of Separation.

When we bomb our brothers.

We destroy ourselves.


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drawing courtesy of Peace not War


Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent post oZ. MS

9:38 AM  
Blogger SB said...

Note: here's a comment about yesterday's post- and a message of peace from one of our reader's friends in Israel.


Howdy from Canada. where I am greatly embarassed by our new prime minister spending so much time with in Bush's hemeroids. Thanks for keeping me connected. We have a number of friends in Israel who are part of an exciting dialogue project including Palestinians. Here is a recent send from one of them.



And so I send my prayers that we can continue to hold down the ground while so many men and women "make their terrible mistakes" and so many others suffer from those mistakes. I pray that when the dust settles, and the blood is flowing more calmly (and inside people's skin where it belongs), we can continue to come together in the project(s) of making safe places of peace.
Thanks Al,

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are trained to violence. Our entertainment is violent. A good movie has to have car wrecks , bombs and shootings. Daffy Duck was violent. "All in the Family" was violent. We are imune to the feelings thatthere is anything wrong with killing and beating each other. It will never end as long as we enjoy it and the entertainment moguls keep on producing it both the fake variety and the real. Latest count there are almost 30 wars going on in some way on this planet.

5:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really appreciate the posts from the last few days. What is happening in the world is so shameful. It is hard to know how to respond other than with total horror.

Susan's writings have been terrific along with the letters from Lebanon that give us the real poop.

Bush's tactics are unconscionable.

Thanks for your unique approach to keeping us informed.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Secretary of State defended her hesitation to "shuttle" to the mideast and pursue peace negotiations as unrealistic.

A sheer failure to comprehend the policies of her job, greater obligations and symbolic presence of the U.S. Or was it?

She's the wrong man for the job.

There is never a time to hesitate to negotiate for peace. NEVER.

1:39 PM  

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