Facing Violence

Violence is a sensitive subject, to face it, to focus on it is to focus on some of the most uncomfortable flaws of our own humanity. It’s worth addressing these flaws, it’s worth fixing them. You might feel powerless but I hope to relieve you of that sensation by the time you’ve read the blog post.

I’m going to use a broad definition

The threat of physical violence is violence, poverty is violence, economic sanctions are violence, intentionally upsetting someone is violence. Violence against animals is violence, even destruction against property is violence.

Violence is not always wrong, sometimes it’s ok, but it has the potential to do such great harm.

Humans are very violent

Humans in the most natural state, free from technology and common means of communication are some of the most violent, territorial, hierarchical creatures in the whole world. We are so violent that we by in large don’t consider violence against animals as violence. We are so violent that we don’t consider laws as having the threat of violence or prisons as violence.

Consider what an action movie is about. Why are we watching so much violence, why is it boring without it. We don’t watch them for the stories do we?

Violence is decreasing

Global rate of violence in 2004 was 7.6 per 100,000. In 2012 it dropped to 6.2. The general trend is downwards for intentional homocide, that includes wars. It’s been dropping since we have records. Why is this happening? Well you know when the manufacturer of your electronic device releases an update, happens with your smart phone a lot or windows. Every time that happens it fixes a bug that was missed when it was first released. Society, education and the way we have communicate have become more and more advanced. We have as a group created a large number of updates over generations spread across a planet without having to change the biology significantly that made humans less violent.

Imagine what the future looks like with even less violence, imagine a world where we don’t have an active war. It’s not crazy, just look at the statistics for violence.

Humans don’t like violence

Despite having the ability to commit violence very effectively at massive scales and targetted at population groups, single vehicles, or entire ethnic groups as a whole humans dislike violence. How do I know we dislike violence? See above. Humans, or humanity is in the process of removing violence whereever it is found. We are conditioning ourselves to not be violent.

More on the broader definition of violence

Violence is all about creating a disability in the target. If it’s a war we want to remove power from a nation or ethnic group. If it’s hunting we subdue the animal by removing it’s ability to escape our mouths. If it’s a “non violent” protest we damage the political power of the group we target. Violence isn’t itself bad, but it shows that something went wrong, we shouldn’t need to protest, we shouldn’t need to hunt and we shouldn’t kill anyone else for any reason but because something went wrong, we did and now we have to clean up the mess we’ve made. Tackling violence is not just about stopping muggings, it’s about creating more effecient systems that tacle the root cause of these issues, no poverty no mugging.

Do we still need violence?

Yes, we need it because we have violence. If someone creates poverty then I must hurt that person’s power so that children don’t grow up in poverty. It’s scarier when it’s children because poverty affects them their whole life, even if they somehow escape it. Violence is useful as a means of determining where problems exist. Humans are only going to be around for a while, we won’t go on forever and during that time it’s important that we live the best lives we can. It’s important that we are ambitious in our goals as a species. We can have so few situations that produce violence that we rarely see it.

Being right wing means wanting more violence

The right glorify strong violent people, they like women who shoot poor people, they like men who are so strong that their wives defer to them completely. They like rigid control over our thoughts, our sex lifes, our bodies. They like wars, empowering blue uniform wearing representatives of the state who use violence to reduce violence and dedicate most of their time ensuring the cycle of poverty is maintained. They like big missiles and a strong man as a leader. Think of anything the right wing want and you will see violence at the heart of it.

So what do we do?

Well we talk about violence and how to stop it, we think before we talk about poverty. We increase our compassion and encourage it in others. We make small local effects that ripple throughout the world. We help the poor and those in need, because we believe in an end to this. We stop eating animals because they feel pain. We look for others who feel the same and work with them to heal ourselves and those around us. It’s not easy but what? Do you want something else? Be real, this is the best life.

Can you ever be violent again? If you aren’t in poverty or acting on the behalf of those in poverty, no.