Were you to stop someone in the street and ask if they would like to stop violence, it would be an odd person who answered no. Yet that is without a doubt the case. There are people who do not want to stop violence. They see it as a means to an end, they perhaps see it as part of life, or they may have been a victim of violence and now seek revenge. They may not even know what is meant by stopping violence.
Violence is systemic and entrenched
The level of violence we come across on a daily basis means to an extent we are all inured to the effects. We see pretend violence in the movies and on TV, we see real violence in news bulletins and documentaries, and increasingly the difference between the two becomes blurred.
It is even possible that we view the pretend violence as the more ‘real’ because we have some commitment to a fictional character. We want James Bond or Jason Bourne to win, and we allow his violence for the greater good to stand.
We see those who eschew violence as weak
Perhaps even more dangerous to society is the idea that we allow violence to exist as a part of life and we decry those who shy away from it as being weak or ineffectual. The common accusation, “You don’t have the stomach for it” fits here. Most often it is a stronger thing to do to step away from the violence than it is to go with the crowd, but this is not how we usually portray it.
We buy into impotence in the face of violence
The ancient Greeks used to debate the idea of living a moral life. This is a time when life was cheap and some lives were cheaper than others. It seems things have not changed much. The people who say no in the face of huge violence are the rare ones. The people who make a stand against the bully are the ones with the courage. Most of us either avoid the issue or allow it to continue while holding up our hands and saying “there is nothing I can do”, or worse, “it’s none of my business”.
The language of violence is its own perpetuator
When we talk about violence, language is inadequate. It does not go far enough in defining what we are talking about, nor does it give us the nuances that we need. The word victim is a statement of fact.
A person is or is not a victim. Yet we nuance that conversation by adding victim mentality or the concept of allowing oneself to be or not be a victim.
It is interesting too that there are no direct opposites of the word victim. There is ‘aggressor’ but it is not quite the same, and it is possible to be an aggressor without committing an act of violence.
Unless we understand what we mean when we discuss stopping violence it is going to continue.