It has not escaped me that in a post from last week I was upset about us bombing Libya, and in the next post I wrote about playing World of Warcraft. I deplore violence, and yet I play a (mostly) violent game. Yesterday I attended a domestic violence training, and several of the participants talked about the intersections of violence — how domestic violence, sexual violence, bullying, war, violent sports, assault, and all the other forms of violence stem from the same core of power-over, and from the attitude of “I have the right to tell you what to do.”
Violence exists in all of nature, which includes humanity. However, I think humanity has put a twist on it that is disturbing. When we have earthquakes, the Earth is being violent, but it is just an adjustment of the balance. When a cat kills a bird and eats it, that is survival. However, I have also seen cats hunt just for the thrill of it. It is in their nature. The question is, do they have a concept of right and wrong? My cat knows not to jump on the table when I am around, because she gets in trouble. But I don’t think she sees jumping on the table (or catching a bird) as wrong.
Perhaps violence is a part of human nature, an evolutionary predisposition to succeed. It would make sense. I think Christianity sees that as part of original sin. But much of humanity professes to be on a “higher level” than the animals. Don’t think I agree with that anymore. I have seen violence and kindness from people and animals. The difference is humans have the ability to write about it and philosophize about it. [I wonder if animals pass along stories in some way we cannot fathom?]
One of my favorite pieces of fiction is Ecotopia, by Ernest Callenbach. He saw violence as a natural part of humanity, needing an outlet. His suggestion was a form of sport/warfare where serious injury/death was possible. While some people participated in the sport, for others it was enough to watch it. I think I agree with him. When I get angry at the world, and have heard about one more creep who has molested a kid, it is very satisfying for me to play my little WoW gnome and have her beat up (and kill) ogres.
What disturbs me are the people who go beyond survival, who search for more power-over than they could possibly use in one lifetime. It has been suggested these are people who had their power taken away from them as kids, often by violence in a variety of possible ways. The thing is, they still have a choice. What a person does with what life has handed them is up to them . . . no once forces them to attack others (physically, verbally, whatever).
Maybe what we need to teach our kids is how to handle violence — how to sublimate it in games or the energy to do other things. Violence management. Yes.
What do you think?