read, think, evolve

Volume 1 Number 25                                                                        November 26, 2000

Once again I'm grappling with one of those puzzles that doesn't seem to have an answer: Violence.

Personally, I am a pacifist, I don't own a gun, and I've never been in a fight.  I recognize however that this is a luxury that is provided to me as the result of others being willing to use violence to maintain order.  

On a theoretical level I can sort of understand violence, but not really.  I mean, what is the point?  I haven't seen any situation where violence didn't make things worse.  There are times where I can see that it is necessary (For example, police using violence to stop a violent person from hurting more people.), but life is diminished every time violence happens.

We have reached the point where we have to try and move beyond violence whenever possible.  At any given point in time there are several dozen wars going on, millions of humans have become refugees, the earth is polluted, children starve, resources are wasted, ... .  Even when war is limited to conventional weapons the damage is severe and unacceptable, and the potential for war to move beyond conventional into chemical, biological and nuclear weapons is steadily increasing as they become available to psychotic people who have risen to positions of power around the world.  (Mao is still correct that power comes from the muzzle of a machine gun, and war has turned several psychotic individuals into leaders.)  

Part of it can be solved by fully accepting that there is only "us", there is no "them", and we need to get along with each other; but there will always be bullies, sociopaths and psychotic individuals who, somehow, derive pleasure from violence.  Since bullies, sociopaths and psychotic individuals seem to have a knack for rising to power, that sometimes means that extreme means (civil wars and wars between nations) are necessary to remove them from power and restore order to the world.

I think another part of the solution is to move the majority of the human race from abject poverty to the middle classes.

What are the other answers?  (If the human race is to survive, the swords will have to be melted down and used to build tractors.)

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