Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Endless Mysteries of Being Human, Part 539: Violence

In my 50-something years of life on this planet, certain aspects of this thing called "Being Human" remain somewhat of a mystery to me.

The tendency of (many) people to respond with some form of violence (physical, verbal, psychological) when their paradigm is questioned or challenged is one of them.

OK, so you don't agree with what I (or someone else) said... or see things differently... and your response is to reach out and "beat" the person who's challenging your paradigm?

It's everywhere, it seems-- from the sand box of my childhood to bullies in school to domestic violence to the way we portray "problem solving" in movies to the wars between nations.

Don't get me wrong here: I grasp the whole litany of rationalizations and "scientific reasoning" the gets spewed in defense of someone who punched a friend (or not-friend) in the face for liking the wrong football team. I can also empathize with someone's underlying pain.

That's not the point.

The point is that in the root of my being; at the center of who I am... I don't understand it. I don't understand the core spark that leads to (metaphorical) "problem solving with your fists."

Back when I lived "down south" (where Big Guns and Big Talk are plentiful) I would occasionally overhear genuine conversations between "seemingly rational and normal" people, in which someone who confess that if "some Ed Bob" were to try to break into their truck and try to steal their stereo, they'd pull out their gun and "kill that mofo!"

Such observations were shared in the same matter-of-fact tone one might use when saying "There are rats in the garage, I've put some traps out there."

I simply don't "get" it.

And I could never complete the equation of same said people sitting in church on Sunday worshiping a God, one of whose core teachings was "Thou shalt not kill."

I also don't "get" the attendant-- albeit subtle-- cultural subtext that if you DON'T "reach out and touch someone" when they do or say something we don't like or understand... we're somehow part of "The Wussification of America." At the very least, someone will confiscate your "Badass Badge."

The "counter-argument" I always get goes something like "Well, if someone was hurting someone you loved and you had a gun, you'd shoot them, too!"

I've thought about that, as well. We do want to protect our loved ones, for sure... and under "extreme circumstances" we will do extreme things.

My thought is that if you happen to have a gun, and you're a good enough shot that you can shoot someone in the head, you're also a good enough shot that you can shoot them in the knee.

But again... this diverts into a sidetrack of semantics.

I never quite understood the whole "Badass" thing, either. "He's a badass, she's a badass, that's a badass car, that's a badass dog."

Having lived in many countries around the globe, that seems to be a uniquely American concept... although it seems to be gaining traction in other parts of the whirled. I don't "get" it-- entirely-- because it seems to emphasize as a "virtue" when someone is "Big Scary and Intimidating."

My father-- God rest his troubled soul-- was Big, Scary and Intimidating. As a little kid, I remember being somewhere with him-- I think, actually, it was a trip to the factory where he was the CEO-- and getting "a talk" about respect. He was an imposing man with a volcanic temper and a strong will. Yet... I watched him interact with the people he told me "respected" him... and from my 10-year old vantage point, all I could really see was that these people feared him.

In my world, FEAR is not the same thing as RESPECT.

I respect Gandhi and the Dalai Lama. I fear Stalin and Hitler. See the difference?

I'm sure there are people who's consider His Holiness a "badass" but I have my doubt His Holiness has ever given the idea a second-- let alone even a first-- thought. He simply is who he is.

My thought is that if you have to think about "being" something... then you probably aren't it. It's like enlightenment... if you're "looking for it" you obviously don't have it.

I suppose that both these ideas... violence and badassishness... have their roots in the fear of powerlessness. And maybe that's one of the "root" places where we really need to try to heal the world... at the level of its fear; people's fear... that they are powerless, and somehow need to "compensate."

Meanwhile, I still don't truly "get" it....