Making Sense of Violence

Yeah, we all know what it is – a push here, a shove there, a stab here, a shot there, a beheading here, a lashing there. Some would argue its necessity in vengeance, others in protection. Violence is never pretty but some have seen it as art and even made a fortune exploiting it. It’s no secret that people are fascinated with it. Throughout the years we have been witness to some of the most gruesome inventions created solely to inflict all manner of pain and extract information or confessions from people. Even animal cruelty is so widespread that it’d turn the stomach of any sensitive person viewing it. It also seems that no race, class or creed of people has been spared the vicissitudes of violence. Mankind has been privy to the conquering hordes of Huns, Vikings, Zulus, Watusis, Mongols, Nazis, Samurai, ISIS and the like. The list is never ending.

But I am saddled with an autistic mind, a mind which attempts to categorize and simplify the world in order to more easily absorb it. My thinking can be so locked into black and white mode that anything abstract, or in the gray area, can become unnoticeable. Either you’re bad or you’re good. You’re happy or you’re sad. You’re working or you’re goofing off. You’re productive or lazy. You’re violent or non-violent. Since I’ve already chosen to be non-violent, that is where I’m locked into permanently. This, of course, makes it difficult for me to understand how one man can easily tear the skin off another or take another man’s head completely off with a knife. I don’t want to seem naïve here. I know that hatred and anger can drive people to do things that, to others, seems unbelievable. Yet, the internet is chockfull of lurid examples perpetrated around the world, and it seems like there’s no end.

I wish I could do something about the violence. Jains see littering as violence against the earth so I try to use receptacles for my garbage as often as possible. I like the saying, “Commit a random act of kindness every day.” If I could live up to that I think I’d be a better person. In a way, people littering on the street is my fault. Instead of sitting at home playing Scrabble I could be out on the street telling people not to litter or maybe even setting an example by keeping the streets and parks clean. That’s a little extreme but I’m sure it has been done. Perhaps, like Shakespeare said, I doth protest too much. Can’t turn it off, though. I’m locked in non-violence.

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