I wrote a tweet which states: Violence appears to be our default position for almost everything. Politics, Entertainment, you name it. The question is can we change it?
I think of myself as a non-violent person. However, I watch movies and television shows which depict violence. I watch sports which contain violent collisions. I play video games with various acts of violence. One can argue that viewing these things does not make one a violent person. However I think an argument can be made that it does desensitize one to violence.
When we have disagreements, and persuasive arguments fail to convince the other side of our superior position, violence is often the end result. The winner in the violence conflict is not necessarily the one with the superior argument, but the one with the ability to mount superior violence. Thus the notion of “might making right” and “history being written by the victors”.
We like to think that mankind is civilized and has progressed beyond our less enlightened beginnings, yet most disputes still come down to “my tanks are bigger than yours”.
It would be great if there were some universal referee which could show up and arbitrate disputes with their decisions binding. But all we have are our imperfect selves and institutions.
We create laws and use these as a basis for resolving disagreements. But laws are often ignored when inconvenient. When one country seeks to control the resources of another country, and the target country does not cooperate – eventually violence ensues. Many justifications are cited. The target country is demonized. Consent of the people in the aggressor country is manufactured, and reasonable sounding people lament the necessity to inflict violence in the service of some greater good. History is then written from the vantage point of those who wielded violence most effectively, and one can be sure that the actions of those who are victorious will be cited nobly, while the less effective violent actors are dismissed as savages, criminals or terrorists of some fashion.
So, how do we change this basic dynamic? I want something you have, or want you to behave a certain way. You refuse to accommodate me. If I’m stronger than you, I’ll probably seek to enforce my will. You will then either resist or flee. It has been the history of our planet.
Respect and recognition of the rights of others is a great place to start. But this notion is often tossed aside when we convince ourselves that our survival is at stake. You have water. I don’t. You won’t give me any of your water, therefore I must take it.
I think the real answer is to love one another. To truly follow the advice of doing to others as we would have them do to us. Perhaps then, violence would no longer be our default position.