By Deb Avery
There is a potential for violence in every moment of our lives.
There is potential for someone or some animal to do violence to us, yet there is also the potential for us to do violence to others. And even if we are alone, frightened or confused, there is the potential for us to do violence to ourselves.
Does it ever end? Are we doomed to live in a world of constant violence? The politicians, special interests groups and violent people would like us to believe that. It serves their purposes well. But the fact is, each and every one of us has the ability to make this a more peaceful world.
By keeping us in the mindset of a victim, constantly watching our backs, constantly on the lookout for some provocation to protect and defend ourselves, we will have precious little energy left to promote the things we love and would like to see in the world.
The saying, “Don’t bash what you hate, promote what you love,” may seem like a simple little catch phrase, but there is enough power in that one sentence to change the world if we embrace the essence of its meaning.
Don’t bash what you hate.
So does this mean we aren’t to speak up against hate and violence? No. There will be times that we will need to speak up and even act out about what we see around us. But we must do it in a way that does not promote even more violence.
We all get overwhelmed at times with all that is going on in the world today.
We wouldn’t be human if we did not. And we certainly wouldn’t be the compassionate, emphatic people that we are if we did not occasionally feel the oppressive nature of violence.
Yet, if we go out and meet violence with even more violent behavior, whether it’s getting in someone’s face and letting them have a piece of our mind, or whether it might be to fight back in retaliation or revenge, we are merely perpetuating the nature of violence.
So what are we do? Do we sit back and let violence rule? Do we look the other way and hope that things will improve on their own? Do we walk away if we seen another being abused or mistreated?
Certainly not! But we must try to diffuse the energy with our brains before we use our brawn. We must learn to confront violence with a sense of love, compassion and justice in our hearts and minds.
This is not an easy thing to do.
And it certainly doesn’t mean we accept the violence, it only means that we should only ever resort to violence when all else fails.
Sometimes it may be as simple as keeping our calm and doing whatever we can to diffuse the situation before us. Sometimes by simply responding with calmness instead of automatically going on the offense, it can be enough to give the other person time to calm down and rethink the situation. Just the inflection of our voice and an attitude of non-violence can sometimes be enough to stop a situation from escalating.
Yet this is the exact opposite response that we are seeing in society today. Everyone wants to be tough. No one wants to feel like they’re being anything less than assertive, even aggressive—a real bad ass. Yet while assertiveness can be an asset, there are situations where it will only make matters worse.
Maybe the best way to deal with a potentially violent situation is keep it from escalating in the first place. That’s not to say don’t defend yourself or anyone else in danger. It’s just saying that too often we make a bad situation worse by our attitude and demeanor.
For instance, if we face their yelling and anger with calm and steady voice, we stand a much better chance of keeping things at a level that can be handled (at least until help arrives) than if we too begin to yell and get angry. A calm demeanor alone can sometimes be enough to gain much needed time for assistance or maybe even help calm a troubled mind.
The Shaolin priests of Japan were well known for their martial arts. They were both tough and humble, kick-ass, yet noble and deeply spiritual. They only used their strength and toughness in self-defense of themselves or others, especially the defenseless. But before they would consider using any show of self-defense, they would try communication, diversion and humbleness to prevent violence from occurring in the first place. Only after every other resource had been exhausted and it came down to their iminent death, or the iminent death of another, did they resort to their training in self-defense.
Police officers are trained in tactics to keep from having to resort to violence even when dealing with criminals, and there are some excellent officers out there who will work diligently to avoid an escalation. But the truth is, there are also some out there with attitudes of “shoot first, ask questions later.”
One only has to look at the headlines on any given day to see the proof of this.
While we may not be trained professionals or Kong-fu experts,we all possess the ability to calm ourselves and possibly others, to communicate in a non-threatening manner and the wits to at least try to keep a situation from getting out of hand.
We have become a society who loves to bash what we hate, but in doing so we have neglected to first promote the things we love; like peace, love and compassion.
In a society that places aggression and being a bad-ass high on the list of attributes to be desired, more than ever we need more everyday heroes with hearts and minds that are resilient, humble and willing to give up their ego to prevent harm, or possibly even save a life.
Meeting violence and hate with more violence and hate will eventually bring about a world where violence and hate is all that remains.
We can do better than this. We deserve better than this.
“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love…” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr
Editor: Dana Gornall