Hippie Lesson #2 has been inspired in part by Mary Rose’s post on Bullying (Victims and Bullies:The Destructive Cycle of People and Politics). To read Hippie Lessons #1, click here.
So I have also been thinking about violence lately given the ongoing conflicts around the world, threats of terrorism, and the drug wars. There is so much pain being felt by so many people in our straining societies one wonders if we are not close to some tipping point?
It seems diplomacy and internationalism, cooperation and mutual goals for human development are all but forgotten in the wake of the corptocracy having taken over the global agenda. It’s all about money. Kill for it, lie for it, steal it, structure societies for it…whatever it takes.
Governments the world over all seem like they’re scrambling for narrow self interest and I think the root of that is who controls those governments. And of course they are bullies. The ever-reaching need for growth and economic development has created a systemic Godzilla on whose back we all are riding to maintain our lifestyle or improve it. When our lifestyle or our religion, or our families, or our interests are threatened we are encouraged by the corpotocracy, through the promotion of violent video games, and movies and 24hr reality war TV to resort to violence to solve our problems.
One look at the film industry and popular cinema has violence as the solution to problems 1,000 times to 1 as opposed to solutions through dialogue. What would the TV show 24 be like if they solved issues through chess games? Violence quickly begets money through everything from new construction projects to cleaning up the mess to the funerals of victims. Dialogue is slow and boring to watch and hard to make a dime from.
But most of us would say we are not violent and most of us don’t resort to violence to solve our problems individually. Parents teach their children not to hit, so why do we do enable our societies to act with extreme violence.
I believe violence is wrong even if used by those fighting for righteous causes, or for justice, or against terrorists. I say this because violence is not the physical act as much as it is the precedent impulse of the heart which enables the horrible physical act. Violence is the justification of dropping bombs on innocent people because some measure of collateral damage is acceptable; violence is the uneducated mind of the racist that forms the insult before it is verbalized; violence is the abuse of a prisoner or a street person by a police officer who misunderstands his role and method as a peacekeeper. Is a violent society perpetuated in some small measure by sports such as hockey which celebrate violence? We abhor violence but we like a good fight in the guise of entertainment.
The second hippie lesson I learned as a child surrounded by flower children was that in order to live in peace one must be peaceful. This sounds so easy, so simple and not exactly profound, but it is much more difficult than it sounds. If it were so easy wouldn’t we have a peaceful world by now?
To be peaceful is to be able to act with compassion toward those who are violent. We need to show criminals how compassion works, to demonstrate (not just give lip service to) the principles of a just and fair society and from this set the example. If we incarcerate and torture, and enable violence in our prisons and in our hearts, we are the equal of those criminals.
So what’s at stake here? Everything is at stake. We all need to search our hearts and minds and understand the fear that causes the impulse to violence. To stop violence at the source. If we continue to ignore the rage within, the storm outside will never subside.
Violence starts with our acceptance of its possibility as a solution and often its inevitability. So it’s inside each of us that we need to go to stop violence and become peaceful. The first of the Buddhist precepts for right living is not to harm living beings. If we could take this precept to heart, to live peacefully, we would first change ourselves and then change the world.
“Daisy” by ©Chrisholtphotos