Are we becoming more violent, or are we just becoming more aware of violence? If Cain killed Abel today, the local evening news might cover Abel’s murder, but most likely, unless we knew the brothers personally or experienced for ourselves the aftermath of a similar violent act, we might forget about it tomorrow.
And because we are a nation (U.S.) consumed with statistics, we might try to comprehend violence by analyzing murder, by counting the number of murders committed yearly, for instance. And we would break the numbers down to the percentage of murders committed by strangers compared to the number of people familiar to the victim. Then we would further categorize the familial murders into parent-child, sibling-sibling, child-parent, uncle-nephew, and so on.
But by statistically analyzing murder, we appear to rationalize it. Violent crime is not rational! World wars, civil wars, gang violence, domestic “disturbances,” rape, murder, incest, and other acts of violence happen on a regular basis. They intrigue us, but do they affect us as much as they would if they occurred only occasionally?
Maybe we are becoming numb to cruelty. We hear about wars raging in other countries, we hear about bombs dropping on defenseless families, and we read about motherless children wandering the streets, and then we close our laptops or our newspapers and we continue our house-hunting plans or we see how much money we can spend online.
According to the FBI, “In 2014, there were an estimated 1,165,383 violent crimes.” Maybe we muttered, “great, there’s another one,” or maybe we were so incensed, we designed a plan to eradicate violence in our communities or at least educate people on how to handle their frustrations, anger, and rage more effectively. Then again, maybe we didn’t.
Maybe becoming more violent doesn’t even matter anymore. A lot of people feel that if everyone had a gun, we’d be less violent. But violent crimes are committed by people who can’t control themselves. Can anyone stop brutality in people who are mentally unstable?
Wouldn’t choosing peace over violence seem to be more natural? Owning a gun will not help us if we’re confronted with demonic, impulsive, and out-of-control psychopaths. We can’t control violent acts they commit, but we can try to understand why they act violently and why they use savage means to resolve conflict.
PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH VIOLENCE:
So many people think that because one person from any ethnic or religious group performs a violent act, all people from that group are evil. Case in point – thinking that all priests are pedophiles because of all the priests who have been found guilty of pedophilia. We tend to group people together and use one example of one person to exemplify everybody else in that group.
We have become a world that expects results – NOW. And we want others to accommodate our needs immediately. Example – you make me angry because you don’t think the way I do; therefore, I have the right to kill you, regardless of the consequences. My immediate need for gratification is more important than any long-term goals you might have – my need is even more important than your life.
Short-term violent solutions to long-term problems
Similar to the paragraph above, people solve long-term problems with short-term – and often violent – solutions. My marriage isn’t working and my spouse just made me angry. My rage is my spouse’s fault and if death results, so what? What matters are my needs, not the needs of my spouse or others who irritate me. Only I matter, and if I have to take shortcuts to resolve my issues by whatever means necessary, I can – and I will!
It’s everyone else’s fault. I don’t need to take responsibility for my actions, because I didn’t cause my problems – other people did and they have to pay for what happened to me!
Media cover crimes and give attention to violent acts – if I perform some kind of vile act, I might get famous. Famous or infamous – doesn’t matter – I want everyone to know my name.
Proving a point
I’m right; you’re wrong. Therefore, I can do whatever I want to do to you to prove my point, even if that means pointing a gun at you and blowing your brains out. Never mind the fact that you will die – I will have proven my point.
Access to illegal weapons
I have a criminal background, so no reasonable gun dealer will sell me a gun, but I can find someone to sell me an assault rifle and I can go on any overpass, into any movie theater, on any playground, in any school or church, or in any mall I want and randomly kill anybody who crosses my path. It’s just something I want to do to release my rage and you can’t stop me!
Drugs and alcohol give me a feeling of invincibility. I can do whatever I want to whomever I want whenever I want. Drugs and alcohol make me feel powerful!
My parents abused me when I was a kid, so my horrible background gives me every right to hurt anybody I want. I believe I should suffer no consequences because of what my parents did to me. It would be their fault anyway.
Giving others permission to think for you
I know when something is wrong, but the exploiter convinces me that I’m what’s wrong. Killing people who aren’t from my background is supposed to benefit the world, isn’t it? My manipulator just gave me permission to kill people for being different from us, so if I praise whatever god my manipulator wants me to praise, I have to do whatever the puppet master wants me to do.
Relative to the section above, manipulators know how to scope out vulnerability. Once they find somebody who is easily manipulated, they can mold that person into whatever they want that vulnerable person to be. Using mind control tactics, they create armies of robots willing to carry out any instruction they give – even to the point of committing suicide.
Mommy or Daddy brutalized me at home, so I’m going to brutalize my classmates. I’ll pick on the most vulnerable one I find and then I’ll carry that brute mentality into my adult life where I’ll brutalize my children, my spouse, and anyone who comes into contact with me. People will respect me, even if I have to beat the respect out of them.
POSSIBLE WAYS TO PREVENT VIOLENCE:
We need to stop pigeonholing everyone. We all belong to different groups, but we are all individuals. By classifying people, we stereotype them as being either negative or positive. We need to recognize that though we might belong to one ethnic group or one religion, we are separate beings. Most serial killers are white males, but that doesn’t mean that all white men are serial killers. We need to apply logic to our thinking.
One of the most difficult virtues to learn is patience, especially now when everything is so instantaneous. When we set goals and allow time to achieve those goals, we enjoy the fruits of our labor. We live in a fast-food world that eats dinners from a box or a bag – hurrying, hurrying, always hurrying – when, instead, we could enjoy a leisurely home-cooked meal with friends and family, siting by a fire or gazing at a lake. We are losing the ability to anticipate. We need to learn and practice relaxation, meditation – anything that calms us and helps us become more peaceful.
Short-term violent solutions to long-term problems
Solving any problem by violent means usually ends in regret – if the person who acted cruelly has a conscience. We need to learn alternate ways for dealing with frustration, loss, hardship, and other life situations – by whatever means necessary. Sometimes we find the answers in books or in time spent with friends. Sometimes we need help from qualified professionals. Whatever our problems are, we can’t rush to solve them.
We need input from reliable sources. We need to reach out for help. Rushing into solving problems without considering all consequences that result from making rash decisions could end in ways that produce even more problems. Be logical. Be patient. Seek help.
Things happen – to us! Maybe somebody raped us and a child resulted. We did not cause the pregnancy, but we now have to decide what to do about what changed our lives – forever. At some point we have to take responsibility for how we respond to what others did to us, regardless of what they did, because once we experience evil, we have to realize that we have a choice – we can live the rest of our lives blaming the person who performed those vile acts, or we can figure out a way to live our lives by helping ourselves – and possibly others – not only to overcome the vile acts, but also to rise above them and thrive!
Sometimes reaching out to others who experienced the same trauma we experienced is the best way to handle violent acts perpetrated upon us, because by reaching out we give – of ourselves – and when we give, we receive benefits we didn’t realize we would receive.
If media didn’t pay so much attention to violence and instead glorified those who work to bring peace to this world, we might find ourselves living in a more peaceful world. We spend way too much time discussing brutality and savagery than we do showcasing the positive qualities of being human.
Look at your conversations and ask yourself if they are filled with gossip and judgment. If they are, begin to focus on bringing more beauty and peace to your personal world, to your friends, your coworkers, and your family. Spread joy wherever you go. Being famous should not be the goal. Being joyful and positive is much more rewarding anyway.
Proving a point
If we feel we need to prove our points of view, unless we can show indisputable proof to validate our opinions, we might as well not show anything at all. If I believe in ghosts, for example, and you don’t, nothing I can say or do will prove to you that ghosts exist until you meet one. By the same token, if you don’t believe in ghosts, and I believe I’ve met one, you’d better prove to me scientifically, beyond a reasonable doubt, that ghosts don’t exist.
No matter how this argument ends, though, we don’t have to kill each other to prove our sides. We are all entitled to our own opinions. Having proof to back up our opinions is great, but losing a loved one because you had to prove how right you were is a huge price to pay for proving your point. Is sacrificing a sacred relationship just to prove your point worthy of the loss?
Access to illegal weapons
No matter how you feel about the 2nd Amendment, you have to admit that our founding fathers knew nothing of our current arsenal of assault weapons. Want a gun? Get a permit and buy one legally! Conceal and carry? Fine, but make sure that what you have is legal, that you know how to use it, and that you keep it away from children!
We need to hold ourselves and others accountable for our and their actions. With so many rules and regulations already on the books, though, why aren’t we enforcing those rules and regulations?
We’ve called a war on recreational drugs, but we’ve lost. Somebody can stumble across this blog 300 years from now and we’ll still be dealing with drugs. Why? Because people think they need them – to cope with whatever is going on in their lives. Life is stressful for everyone at some point during their lives. What you are experiencing is no more stressful than what others experience. Your problem won’t be solved with drugs and alcohol. What will help you is learning how to cope with your stressors and understanding that all things truly do pass.
We also need to be honest about drugs and alcohol when we discuss their effects with our children. I explore these issues in the following two articles:
Let’s empower kids by teaching them how to pay attention to their own feelings. If something doesn’t feel right to them, they need to address the problem immediately. We need to protect them and guide them. We need to be leaders.
Too many of us are followers. If we become parents, we have assumed a leadership role. We need to rise to the challenge to be the leader we were meant to be.
We owe it to ourselves and to our children to encourage them to trust themselves and not to succumb to peer pressure. If somebody promises them that drugs will make them feel euphoric, explain to them why they should stop paying attention to what the predators or manipulators tell them and to listen instead to their own consciences and their own inner voices.
The same goes for joining cults or listening to someone try to convince them to do something they know is wrong. Nobody who invites you or your child to join a cult will admit they belong to a cult, by the way.
LOTS of people had horrible childhoods. Having a horrible childhood does NOT give you permission to act like an imbecile. You do NOT have the right to abuse others because somebody abused you. We were born with a conscience and we were born with a choice – to think.
Instead of seeking revenge by molesting the little boy down the street because Daddy molested you, become so successful DESPITE what happened to you that you overcome your past and enjoy your present and your future. Either dismiss Daddy or forgive him, but whatever you decide to do, get help for yourself and move on.
Giving others permission to think for you
One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed is that people can’t – or don’t want to – think for themselves. Are we lazy, or do we just not care? Even a child knows the difference between right and wrong, so why, when somebody with more authority tries to convince them and us that the more powerful person is right, do we allow that person to take control of our lives? We, who have no faith in ourselves, put all our faith in that other person. What we need to do is believe in ourselves and trust our instincts, and we need to encourage our children to do the same.
Manipulative evil is everywhere. Manipulators mesmerize, control, and lure unsuspecting victims into their lair. Kids learn how to manipulate from skilled adult manipulators. Manipulators are sneaky and create an environment of pseudo-trust. They know how to get into your mind and into your heart. We need to protect ourselves from these unscrupulous beings. Again, we need to pay attention to our instincts.
We cannot allow others to manipulate us and we need to protect our children from succumbing to the charms of manipulators, too. We all need to feel loved, and master manipulators know that. They seek out vulnerable individuals who don’t feel loved (sometimes only in the moment) and in less time than it takes for the charm to wear off, exploiters wrap their victims in intricate webs of deception.
BEWARE of these types of sociopaths and PROTECT yourself and others from them. They want to CONTROL you, and nobody but you has the right to control your thoughts and your actions.
Power and control are what drive bullies. They feel impotent, so they have to exert whatever means necessary to take control of situations and people. Many bullies think that the recipients of their tyrannical behavior will respect them more because being a tyrant makes them feel powerful. So let’s pay attention to them and also to those kids who are being bullied.
Don’t ignore the signs of bullying (signs of bullying appear in the blogs linked below). Get bullies professional help BEFORE they go on murderous rampages! Get help for the ones being bullied too! Bullies (some of whom may be parents) may be grooming unsuspecting seemingly defenseless individuals to perform evil acts or they may be brainwashing them with techniques designed to siphon away all that is good in them. If you recognize this type of manipulative and/or bully behavior, be courageous enough to speak up for the one being manipulated or bullied.
Because I am deeply concerned about this issue, I wrote an article, entitled, Socializing, Peer Pressure, and Bullying: At Lunch, on the Bus, During Recess: Raising Confident Children and Managing Bullies. In it I outline not only why bullies bully, but also how to understand the bully. Another great article appears here – When Your Children are the Bullies, written on AUGUST 15, 2016, by John Pavlovitz.
Violence occurs because a lot of people respond emotionally to what happens to them. Looking at situations objectively is not always easy. Many people justify their behavior with “reasons” that make no sense to anybody but themselves. Learning how to think logically will help prevent irrational behavior.
What we all need to understand is that we are all flawed human beings who rely on each other for a variety of reasons. Unless we can grow our own crops, build our own homes, furniture, and appliances, find our own resources, and live without depending on anyone for anything, we need each other. I can’t sew, so I rely on others to make clothes for me. I don’t know how to manufacture refrigerators or ovens, so I rely on others to manufacture them for me. I also don’t know how to design shoes, assemble automobiles, or create my own Internet, so I depend on others for everything I don’t know how to do.
I am aware that I’m not alone! We all need each other, but more importantly we all need to recognize that we need each other! What will it take for us to choose peace over war? As I ask in the circle that appears above, “If Earth was in a war with other planets, would we then see ourselves as united?”