Saturday, February 05, 2005

Violence and man

Every day we hear about murders, bombing, beating, etc in the news but it is still only a very small percentage of the amount of violence that occurs all over the world daily. Whether it is a street fight, or a terrorist bombing, or a Falluja, violence stares right into eyes out of newspapers and TV. Violence rocks our world there is hardly any society in the world which is completely devoid of violence.
Is violence inherent in us? Well, it looks like it, doesn't it? If you believe in the theory of evolution given by Darwin, then violence is the struggle for existence which is the basic requirement for the struggle for existence. Herbivores eat plants, carnivores eat herbivores and scavengers feed on dead plants and animals. The acting of eating is an unavoidable requirement and is therefore not considered violent. But the act of procuring the food can be violent. For example, a lion hunts down a deer and eats it. It commits a murder so as to feed itself. Human beings eat animals too but killing them in an act of violence. Thus, violence is unavoidable!
So why do we talk about non-violence and peace? Well, though we have to kill other living beings to survive, there is a lot of violence in this world that is unnecessary. Like the Iraq war which was lobbied for with blatant lies and deception for the sole purpose of procuring the "black gold" and to make certain American companies richer. Why do we have to kill animals for their fur or leather in the name of fashion or for their tusks of ivory? Why are we compelled to kill each other in the name of God and moral justice? Why do we create boundaries and protect them with men armed with guns? Why do we have to deplete the earth of its resources for our own insatiable comfort requirements?
Sometimes I think that we need violence to sustain ourselves and we would die if we did not get our daily quota of violence. We have been brought up not to be violent but isn't it true that children in general are very cruel? Don't they catch fireflies and keep them bottles, cut off the wings of butterflies because it catches their fancy, or roast ants alive using a magnifying lens? As kids, we would get into fights and enjoy professional wrestling. Yes, violence entertains us. Don't we watch action movies for the thrills of the action sequences? In fact there is a channel dedicated to action! An indication of the popularity of violence is the number of shows that are aired on cable tv that show graphic footage of violent behaviour. Cops, Extreme Exposure, police chases, The most shocking moments caught on tape... the list is endless.
A nice discussion...

"Violence And Disruption In Society: A Study Of The Early Buddhist Texts"
Paticca samuppada opposes the human tendency to generalize and encourages analysis on the basis of empirical data and moral values applied to these. [27] It criticizes standpoints which use inappropriate categories through insufficient observation and dogmatic statements about right and wrong which do not take empirically observed facts into account.
To understand Early Buddhism's analysis of violence, this conditionality is important. When the Buddha speaks about the causes and the remedies of violence, his approach is dependent on the conditions prevalent in a particular situation.

I really like this page which discusses Buddha's teachings. It makes me want to research more on Buddhism. I love the fact that he understood the discrepancies in society. For example, "In another sermon handed down to us, two men are pointed out while the Buddha is talking to a headman, Pataliya. One of them is garlanded and well-groomed; the other is tightly bound, about to lose his head. We are told that the same deed has been committed by both. The difference is that the former has killed the foe of the king and has been rewarded for it, whilst the latter was the king's enemy. [8] Hence it is stressed that the laws of the state are not impartial: they can mete out punishment or patronage according to the wish of the king and his cravings for revenge or security."
He was definitely light years ahead of his time.
The real "causal" question here then is not why so many young males act so violently. This is digestion; it just happens as long as the appropriate stimuli (the analogs of food) are fed in (females, other males, resources).
My only final words of advice – not probably very helpful to this audience – are to treat violent episodes as natural events: not to seek their elimination, but to observe carefully the escalation sequences that seem natural to them, and learn to control these by effective de-escalation through the sequence, or the circuit breakers.

I think the conclusion of this article is important because it is something that is true. Violence is not abnormal behaviour but quite normal going by the nature of things. Buddha recommends cleansing the mind of violence while the writer of this article says that what is really necessary is knowledge of de-escalation techniques as it is natural for violent incidents to happen.

Now the article makes another important observation. It is young males who act violently and that it is natural for them, almost suggesting that it is genetic. More support for this -
... Demonic Male Hypothesis, and it suggests that human and chimpanzee males share a capacity for violence because our common ancestor also had a genetic predisposition for violence.

Interestingly, there is a certain sect of feminists who believe that the world would be a peaceful place if it was handed over to them. Perhaps, it is true...

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