When you enter the words stop violence in Google, at the top of the list is a movie. The next item that has something to do with the topic at hand is the National Stop the Violence Alliance Inc., a US 503c corporation.
On a national level, this means gun violence, drug-related violence, domestic violence and violence against black people, women, gays and other minority sectors of the community where it is ok to beat up someone for who they are.
On an international level, the issues both diversify and magnify. We have to include ethnic cleansing which continues even as most people agree it is deplorable. We have to identify that violence against women becomes a much bigger issue when we take it to an international level. Mostly because elsewhere women have not begun to achieve the lower level of inequality than their western sisters have.
Is a small step the best we can expect?
Violence does little more than begetting more violence. It is an idea we are all familiar with, the abused becoming the abuser. The person who finds a way to break the chain of violence is much rarer than the person who continues it.
At a local level, there are plenty of arguments and even some practical advice as to how a society might go about violence prevention at a macro level. But how do you bring that same pressure to bear at a macro level?
After 50 years of institutionalized violence between Israeli and Palestinian brokering a peace between them is a gargantuan task, and who could blame the Rohingya for not feeling warm toward the people of Myanmar currently.
There comes a point in bigger crises where the essentially personal experience melds with that of an entire community and bringing it to an end is nearly impossible.
We hear of battle-weary troops but what does that really mean? To get people to fight other people in as large a way as international war requires propaganda and the inculcation of a set of values to perceive the other as an enemy threatening the very fabric of life.
Battle weariness hits when one side or both no longer buy into the propaganda. Their experience in war makes the national goals less important than the loss of self.
The problem is such weariness comes after huge cost. And coming back to an earlier point, the conscientious objector was a hated person during the two World Wars. It was not until afterward that cooler heads began to prevail and accept that perhaps there was a point there.
It is when it gets personal that stopping violence becomes imperative
If we really want to stop violence then we, unfortunately, have to somehow bring it down to the personal. It is not until the individual feels something at the same time as many other individuals feel the same thing that there can be real change.
Let’s hope the National Alliance and everyone else keeps working.