Friday, June 27, 2003

non-violence

Jefe wrote about a disturbing incident on his bus ride home. It's the kind of thing that makes you want to condemn the parents of the wilding kids for not doing their job. But I think it's more than that.

We humans are a nasty bunch. As a species, we're very comfortable with aggressive behavior. Always have been, apparently. Granted, there's violence in the rest of the living world. So at one level, I guess it's appropriate to say violence is natural. As the dominant species, we've perfected the art of violence. We engage in violent behavior for pleasure. Is this pleasure response part of natural selection's bag of perks? Is it natural that the most violent should be at the top of the pecking order, evolutionarily-speaking?

This is a wide-ranging subject and something I've only begun to sort out. Mon betise miniscule of musing will not do it justice. But I almost think for society and mankind to move it up a notch, someone has got to come to gripes with a way of defining and promoting a new version of civilization.

In the classic sense, we became civilized, in the western world, when we moved away from a 'barbaric' societal form. We did that only because a ruling power realized more wealth through building an empire, which fueled a standing army, to defeat these 'savages.' Of course, that didn't last - the opportunists in the nomadic societies of the asian plains saw Roman 'civilization's' sloth and easy pickings. But ultimately, the concept of permanent armies and the infrastructure necessary for them, took hold. We haven't left that state yet.

Non-violence, as a practice, as a societal norm, has had it's proponents - but with only a modicum of success. Remembering the super-enlightened ability it takes to be a burning monk (or for you younger readers - looking at Rage Against The Machine album art), complete adoption of non-violence can be a discouraging and daunting task. For sure, most of the world isn't there yet and your pacifism will likely end up with you being on the receiving end of something like Jefe's bus neighbor.

But still, teaching & applying oneself to living a non-violent life seems to be the only way. We humans won't come to this 'naturally.' But there's an easy cop-out we should be careful to avoid. Take Jefe's bus incident. Some might say the parents of those kids didn't do their job. Sure, they probably didn't. But this is an easy way of laying blame - avoiding our own responsibilities. Jefe did a noble thing and he became a teacher. There is wisdom in simple concepts like thinking globally and acting locally. Don't kill a bug, unless you have to eat it.

See? I don't have it all sorted out yet.



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