Violence is never the answer to any problem. It is the province of the insane. High profile cases such as the Pulse attack in Orlando earlier this week and the murder of UK Member of Parliament Jo Cox yesterday hit the headlines and make us think how awful such things are. They are indeed terrible and it is almost impossible to imagine the grief and impact on the lives of the loved ones of the victims. Shamelessly cruel events happen all the time across the globe. We can and do blame the perpetrators because the human trait is to blame someone when things go wrong. But violence is a symptom of general insanity, a sickness shared by the whole human race. Isis is committing genocide, according to the UN. Unthinkable. But have we stopped it? Do we even know how to stop it? It seems not.
Violence starts in the mind
We normally associate violence with harmful actions and angry words. But before those words and actions, there are thoughts. The process may happen very quickly, so we may say someone acted without thinking. There have to be thoughts, though. Arms and legs don’t move by themselves. The mouth doesn’t enunciate without brain activity. It all starts in the mind.
Where do the violent thoughts come from? A psychologist will be able to identify a million and one causes. However complex, there is always the underlying cause of separatism. With a belief that we are different, we see the other person (or race) as less human than we are, or not human at all.
Can there be justified violence?
If we are attacked, it may be necessary to use force to defend ourselves. Even so, most would agree that force is a last resort. A true martial artist would rather walk away from trouble than use his or her fighting skills. A military general might argue the benefits of a preemptive strike to prevent an attack. By and large, however, violence is a recipe for trouble and merely sows the seeds for retaliation at a later date.
Mahatma Gandhi proved that non-violence can achieve enormous results. Corporal punishment of children, once considered essential, is now generally regarded as primitive, cruel and unnecessary, in the west at least. Not all societies follow that view and there are many countries where barbaric cruelty is still meted out, and not only to children. In the long run, do we want our communities to be run on the basis of fear? Or is it better to have kindness and mutual respect? If it is the latter, the place we have to start with is ourselves.
The importance of love in the conduct of business and politics is developed in my second book Awakening Heart: The Blissful Path to Self-Realisation