Posted by: paulbassler | January 27, 2013

Social Violence

It’s nearly impossible for most of us not the feel the hardship, the pain, the utter horror when we think about the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. How could someone look into the terrified eyes of these innocent children and the fearful eyes of their teachers and take their lives in such a brutal way? For most of us it’s unimaginable. Unfortunately it’s not unimaginable for everyone.
With school shootings and gang violence seemingly on the up rise, our entire nation, politicians and the general public, are trying to figure out what can be done. But before we can figure out what to do to stop this, we have to understand how and why we are creating it. We are doing these violent things to ourselves.
The first thing we need to recognize is that all human emotions spring from two sources, love or fear. Whether you are feeling anger, jealousy, compassion, insecure, the source of these feelings is either love or fear. Love is what we feel when we perceive our unity with someone or something. Fear is what we feel when we perceive a disconnect with everything, our loneliness.
That said, the source of most violence is anger and the source of anger is fear. Violence can also spring from despair or depression, and of course, the source of these feelings is fear. It’s needs to be recognized that school shootings and gang violence are the manifestations of fear, not the creator of it, though it does create fear in the general public. The fear that causes young people to join a gang doesn’t seem so difficult to identify. Most gang violence is taking place in our cities, springing from the poorer neighborhoods. People who live in poverty are separated from the mainstream, they struggle for their next meal, their self esteem is challenged, and in many cases, their family structure has broken down. It is no surprise that many young people seek out more structure, more unity, more love outside the family. They combat the fear by looking for love and they find that love in the unity, companionship and loyalty of a gang.
The fear that lives in the heart of a mass killer, like those who have attacked our schools, is a bit more challenging to identify. For some it could be as simple as their desire for attention, springing from their feelings of loneliness, abandonment, or a feeling they are invisible in the world and they want people to see them. Some of these mass killers have already decided to kill themselves, and perhaps they feel that if they can’t live happy why should anyone else.
In the national dialogue, there are those who believe that guns are the problem and they are fighting to limit access to guns. It seems to me that those who have reached the level of fear that prompts them to express that fear in a violent way will find a way for that expression. If we outlawed guns all together, we may see a decline in gun related deaths, but we would also see a rise in blunt force trauma, poisonings and knife attacked. Fear expressed by violence will find a way for that expression.
So what can we do to reverse the trend towards social violence? In order to add my voice to those who share similar beliefs on the subject, I offer the following suggestions: Improve our economy in order to lift American families out of poverty, with a special eye on improving opportunities in the inner cities; start teaching our children at the earliest age, in our schools and in our homes, non-violent conflict resolution. Stress the importance of this value; Try to limit the glorifying of violence in our movies and video games. It’s one thing to show violence through these mediums, and another to glorify that violence. Whether violence is perpetrated for good, such as a policeman or soldier, or bad, like murder, violence is violence. The more we see it the more we believe it is a part of our society. That doesn’t mean we ignore the violence in our society, it means that we can focus on other aspects of our nature and give greater value to those aspects that promote our safety, our unity, our ingenuity, our creativity, our love; as for the gun controversy, I have no problem having folks register their firearms, just as we register our vehicles. As for the types of firearms that should be available to citizens, first I would let the states decide for themselves that question. We should, however, put into place strong federal laws prohibiting the transportation of firearms across state lines. I would also like to see stronger federal laws against the illegal possession and use of firearms. Let people know that possessing and using firearms against the community will be dealt with severely.
No one has all the answers to curbing violence in our society but there are things we can do. First and foremost, we have to address the fear that permeates our society, not just nationally, but globally as well. Right now, human beings are still afraid of one another and we need to find ways to lessen those fears. One way to do that is to recognize that fear is an illusion. Fear, being the perception of separateness and aloneness, is an illusion since none of us are alone. We are all a part of the one, whether we can perceive that or not. To help people out of fear we need to show them they are not alone, that everyone is valued, that we are all united. Violence is a reflection of our fear and we will have to face that fear in order to change our world.

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