Wednesday, April 04, 2007

On violence

This is an expansion upon a posting by Quaker Agitator, entitled Truth from Mr. Gandhi, v. 2., which has the following quote by Gandhi:

"I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."

Indeed. Violence cannot add anything to the world. Violence cannot create anything. The best that can be said about violence is that sometimes it is necessary for self defense or the defense of others -- sorry, I disagree with the Quakers on this one, while I do not believe violence can ever be moral, it can (very occasionally) be necessary for perpetuation of the organism -- i.e., necessary.

That said, "necessary" and "moral" are two different words. If I kill a man in self defense, I have removed a man's life from this earth just as certainly as if I killed him just for the fun of it. The best that can be said is that if it is a choice of him taking my life or me taking his life, there is no moral choice that can be made, because a man is dead either way. At that point the inner monkey takes over, the primitive beast whose struggles for survival in the African veldt far surpassed anything that we can imagine. And said monkey wants to *live*...

When it comes to the raising of children, or disciplining of children, much the same applies -- violence is never moral. The problem isn't that we've banned the paddle or whatever other rot the tighty righties want to trot out. The problem is that we have a very punitive and violent society that views punishment -- violence -- as the solution to all problems. But while violence can *stop* a behavior, that is all it can do -- it can never add something to a child's understanding of the world. It can never add something to society. Love, encouragement, setting clear goals and expectations and rewards (note I say rewards, not bribes, there's a difference), making life a pleasant and rewarding experience rather than something harsh and punitive... what works for raising a happy child, also works for raising a happy society. Alas, our punishment and violence addicted society seems to have forgotten this, thus why our society is so unhappy, violent, and prone to addictions such as crack cocaine, black tar heroin, and neo-conservative politics.

Folks are prone to dismissing Gandhi as an "impractical dreamer". But in this case, at least, he was being a practical observer. There has been no instance of violence that increased the amount of good in the world. Violence has never added anything to the world. Violence can only take away. Violence can only stop or remove things. Violence cannot dream, or create, or invent, or provide salvation for lost souls. Violence can only destroy dreams, destroy creations, squash innovations, provide damnation for lost souls. It is sad that punishment -- violence -- seems to be the only response that our sick society has for a wide variety of societal problems. It is sad, because there is so much more that could be done, if only we embraced creation rather than destruction as the fundamental force of our society.

-- Badtux the Creative Penguin


  1. Good stuff, Oh Flightless One.

  2. And, Jesus said, "Love thy neighbor. Unless they pisseth you off. Then beat the crap out of them." It's in Matthew or something.

  3. Wow. Right on the money.

    Primitive Instinct is hard to control, it takes reason. The conservatives don't like reason.

  4. great post.

    Folks are prone to dismissing Gandhi as an "impractical dreamer".

    I notice this happens alot to people that are optimistic about mankinds potentual. Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of my favorite optimists was always criticized as an impractical dreamer.

    It is true that of course we know violence is never moral & everything else you said about it is true.

    if only we embraced creation rather than destruction as the fundamental force of our society. True.

    I believe we do need to change our focus. We need to have more faith & hope in our selves. We definately aren't getting that from religion at the moment.


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