“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

People Do, more thoughts on violence....

Guns don't kill people, people kill people.

My mother said that a lot when I was growing up. My mother, who was one of the most radical liberals I've ever known. Well, at least she was once she left the Mormon church. Over time she became agnostic, attended church only on Christmas Eve, and then the Roman Catholic Church for the incense and hymns. My mother had a brilliant mind, a great sense of humor, loved science and politics.

I use to think that, too. That people kill people. But when my mother said that phrase, and when I thought it, people did not have access to semi-automatic weapons. Then mass killings of people in schools, post offices, shopping malls, movie theaters, or any other non-war related site, had not happened and were not, as they are now, on the rise.

People do kill people. No doubt. It's just really tragic that they are also allowed to have access to high powered semi-automatic weapons of war to do it.

There is no way the second amendment really intends for this. I have no desire to have a gun. None. But neither do I want to say that others cannot have one if they desire. I don't want the risk of a police state, which is the real motivation behind the second amendment, is it not? But avoiding the risk of a police state and maintaining the right to bear arms is a long way from advocating for people to have semi-automatic guns/rifles...

One face of violence.

There are many. And, as a couple of my friends have noted, not all forms of violence, nor all words of violence are "bad" or negative or perhaps, even harmful?

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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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