Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Thinking Out Loud About Violence

"The phenomenon of violence appears in many different ways in every society all over the world and is mostly defined as “intentional physically aggressive behavior against another person” and respectively as “the use of physical force to apply a state to others contrary to their wishes”, as well as a way of manipulation. This common definition illustrates violence as (aggressively) physical influencing of another human being – which is very far from reality." (from here the International Youth Media Summit IYMS)

I'm thinking about violence these days. The above quote offers the common understanding of violence, however the article that the quote is from argues that violence is more. Violence includes direct-individual, structural, and cultural violence - violence is inherent in human lives and constructs. Our very ordering of civilization contains violence - the violence of oppression, of those who have and those who have not. On Sunday morning our scripture texts are taking us through the First and Second Books of Samuel - the story of David and the story of rebuilding the ancient Hebrew nation. It is a story filled with violence, war, rape, murder. Of broken humanity, of glorified humanity, of abusing humans, of women abused, devoiced, shunned by their husbands, fathers, brothers. It's a story of self-entitlement. It's a story of faith.

Violence is inherent to human life. Violence has a shadow side, too. By this I mean, all the ways we think of violence as noted above, are the obvious. The shadow side of violence inherent to human life include childbirth, lovemaking, self-defense, exercise, parenting (what parent has not lost her or his temper on occasion, raised the voice a bit to high, spoken words that sting out of frustration and exhaustion or with the hope of "knocking some sense" into defiant children? What child has not "pushed" back, struggled for self-differentiation?)

Life is violent. Violence is part of life. What to do?

Despite this reality that life is violent, is there not a way that we can strive to balance the violence that comes with living (lovemaking and birth) with a deeper sense of compassion for the living? Where the very structures that define our cultures and societies strive to eliminate oppression, value every human being, eliminate greed and strive for all to have an equal share of the basic necessities of food, shelter, comfort, education, and enough work to earn a living?

Just thinking out loud here...there is much to say about this...

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