Violence becomes fatal

Violence becomes fatal

Violence is always dangerous. It is the outward manifestation of inward dissatisfaction. What starts as a niggle grows with stimulus into hatred, first of oneself for being in the position that is causing anger and second of other people for not removing the cause. In primitive humans this led to fisticuffs, followed quickly by cudgels, stones and traps. Technology provided the means for humans to turn the violence into murder, mass murder and, increasingly, war. This is now at a tipping point where, sooner or later, a madman, or group of them, will destroy massive numbers of people and other creatures that call the world home.

What foments and exacerbates violence? A sense of deprivation is the root of it. ‘Someone else has what I want and don’t have.’ That may be physical possession, people possession or power possession. The former are usually proven over a lifetime to be minimally satisfying. ‘People possession’ is a desperate need to be loved, something we all have. Sadly, it can also take a lifetime to define love, often longer than a lifetime to find it. My father’s definition of love, “the gift of self”, is a good start. Power is so ephemeral that it defies definition until one realises that it is a myth – for true power has no need of demands.

The school playground battle was supposed to toughen up the boys and turn them into fighting men. It succeeded. Self-defence became first a legitimate and then a necessary skill in order to avoid being robbed and killed. The gun lobby in the United States is based on the logical proposition that if everyone else has one, I must as well. It then becomes a matter of culture, something that takes time and extremely persistent effort to change. Different cultures had different violence behaviours. 

As long as we were separate countries, isolated from each other by distance, language, difficulty of accessing or lack of communications, each culture developed in its own way, sometimes making progress toward peace, sometimes becoming more possessively aggressive. The minute we could see how the other half lived that changed. The peaceful could now enjoy the titillation of violence from the comfort of their sofa. The naturally assertive could equip themselves from the internet to join the fight for whatever was stirring the emotions. The innocent could view the guilty through a lens of lust, harmless in itself but harmful in its residue.

Almost at a stroke the world became one country.

The education needed to support such a society has not only not been taught but has still barely even been conceived. If it had, Israelis would regard Palestinians as brothers and sisters. If it had, world leaders would have priorities of fairness – a word barely mentioned in international forums and declarations. If it had, capitalism would be planet based not profit based. If it had, the political shift to the right in so many countries, both rich and poor, would become a political shift to the middle.

With 10Bn other humans on the planet, individuals have thought themselves individually to be unable to make a meaningful contribution to stability and sustainability. The attitude of so many to the climate crisis is already “it’s over, and we have lost”. When people give up, hope dies. Our fixation with numbers of all sorts has made us think that ‘one’ is useless and only billions count. We have forgotten that billions are simply lots of ones. For all the technological genius we have produced, the concept of wisdom has been relegated to ‘later’. The belief that one day we will have enough time and inclination to become wise is daft.

Every minute each individual devotes to violence is a minute lost to peace.

Every minute lost to peace is a minute for promoting war.

Every war is closer to the brink of annihilation. 

Every thought counts.

Good morning

John Bittleston

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31 October 2023