Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Violence: Problem or Symptom

Philosophically Speaking
By: Errol A. Gibbs (18/07/2012)

Violence: Problem or Symptom

Is violence a problem in our modern society? What an absurd question one might conclude. Evidently, daily news reports present a picture of violence between individuals, family members, street gangs, and nations in the international community. The irrefutable fact is that violence is a SYMPTOM of a deep and underlying problem within the human spirit, which demands an approach to solutions from spiritual, moral, social, intellectual, and physical perspectives. Violence is not a PROBLEM in itself; problems have solutions. There cannot be any solution to violence outside of the imposition of the will of the human heart. Violence comes from the head (the human compulsion, our ‘human nature’), but non-violence comes from the heart (the spiritual compulsion, our ‘spiritual nature’).

Our youths are turning against each other in a deadly game of gun violence, fuelled by broken homes, fatherlessness, low self-esteem (low-self image + low-self worth = low self-esteem), anger, revenge, bravado, greed, disrespect for the law and human life, and lack of empowerment. They derive feelings of empowerment through weapons, and for many, a way to (falsely) boost their self-esteem. Nations must place its ‘faith’ and resources in the ‘expediency of law enforcement’ as the principal response to violence, at the same time, the sum total of human experience teaches that even ‘capital punishment’ (the ultimate deterrent) cannot mitigate ‘human compulsion’ for greed, hate, or revenge. This is truly a complex proposition for any justice system.

The violence that we witness in homes, on the streets, or in schools, is a symptom (terrible as violence is) of deep and underlying challenges that some youths are ill equipped to manage, likewise some adults. If we were to incarcerate every youth between the ages of 15 - 21 years; will the problem go away? Certainly not! Future generations of youths will display similar and perhaps greater tendencies towards violence, because we have not mitigated the root causes. Yet, we know by intuition and empirical evidence that the root cause of youth violence can become more dominant in our modern society. The modern family is struggling to cope with various forms of abuse, fatherless homes, one economic onslaught after another, loss of investments, loss of employment, loss of homes, coping with multiple low income jobs, and job stress, etc. Some of our youths are trapped in a “concrete jungle,” and need regular outings to complex manufacturing plants, nuclear and thermal power plants, power dams, and great architectural monuments to expand his or her ‘range of vision’ of what is possible. What is more troubling is that we have come to accept violence on television and in movies on a grand scale. This is a paradox of our modern age, as we strive to mitigate violence on the streets.

Our noble efforts by governments, community and religious organizations can only develop strong roots, when we examine the challenges of youths in the context of the larger society that establishes the agenda. Millions of dollars in funding over the past decades to help marginalized communities may have been too narrowly focused, dispersed and relegated to the ‘periphery’ and not at the deeper underlying issues that underpin youth violence. There is a need for a deeper dive by community and church organizations into the depths of the underpinnings of youth violence. What exactly are those pillars that uphold youth violence? Notwithstanding, this writer is not inferring that violence is endemic in our society. These sporadic outbursts by no means define a decline in the civility of our great city of Toronto, Canada.

There is also a need for great nobility in the mobilization of governments and industry to foster the creation of macro-level job sustainable infrastructure solutions to challenge our youths. My question is: “Is there truly a need for enlightened nations to construct super-prisons?” Perhaps society ought to be better informed, if violence begins within the family? This should heighten the burden on the family as a mitigating element. There is also a need for our great religious, political, academic, economic, industrial, and intellectual minds to commission a “different” round table discussion with governments, and business and industry on the critical issues of youth violence. It would be a sad day for all of us if enlightened Western nations accept the incarceration of our youths as the “final option” Rather than stigmatize communities as “at-risk”, perhaps “empowerment zones” or “zones of excellence” might be more positive. Where are the voices of religion, the academics, and the intellects of our modern age, I ask?

We also need to determine the right spiritual balance for disciplining our children (not violently God forbid). Lamentably, we are reaping the benefits of some parental neglect, and fear and trepidation (founded or unfounded) by the expediency of law hence the inadvertent surrender of parental discipline. Ought we to be surprised by the ‘unbridled’ autonomy by some of our youths, and even children?

On the grand scale, six thousand years of recorded history of violence, presents a sad human legacy of genocide, wars, slavery, colonization, apartheid, and general injustice, often to the weakest of God’s creation. Sadly, violence has become institutionalized, as the response to disagreements by, and among individuals, nations, and the international community. More importantly, is the continuation of these atrocities into the twenty–first century, and in various parts of the world. Violence causes human anxiety, family breakdown, fear, reciprocal violence, stress, depression, loneliness, and other ills in the crucible of the twenty–first century.

Nations have demonstrated some capacity to suppress violence using measures such as: capital punishment; incarceration, and rehabilitation, but these measures do not reach the ‘root causes’ of violence on the front end. They are appropriate legal remedies on the back end of the justice system necessarily so. There are two perspectives on the laws that govern human behaviour: (1) God’s law that liberates (proactive), and (2) human laws (reactive)a legal mandate. God’s law can accomplish what tens of thousands of human laws, and billions of dollars, can only partially comprehend in the light of the nature of human behaviour. Moral enlightenment enables human laws that appeal to moral motivation, underpinned by the immutable law of God. God’s law appeals to higher moral imperatives such as: love, kindness, humility, sharing, caring, compassion, empathy, mercy, meekness, forgiveness, repentance, moral persuasion, and moral discipline as well (human laws).

Human laws are essential, but obedience to human laws largely cultivates compliance, based on fear of censure or punishment by other human beings, rather than fear of God as a first imperative for human behavior (Psalm 111:10). Religious and secular laws are distinctly differentiated by the ‘Separation of Church and State’. These two conflicting states are essentially problematic, because of incongruence in managing nations.

Whenever violence occurs within a society, there is a call for greater authority. This call diverts resources and human capital from other critical investments in five foundations of human development. When a society makes investments in human development such as: spiritual, moral, social, intellectual, and physical development, it is better able to aid secular authority.

Violence threatens the survival of the human species as World War III looms in the panorama of our minds, and the labyrinths of our thoughts and memories of the unmitigated violence of World War I (1914–1918), and World War II (1939 1945). World War II was the single deadliest conflict the world has experienced, causing many tens of millions of deaths to both soldiers and civilians alike. Paradoxically, World War I was called the war to end all wars. Why is modern civilization still standing, transfixed, in our modern era, without any semblance of a solution to violence?

Errol Gibbs is a former project management and business consultant; engineering technologist; process designer; project management analyst; and planning and scheduling engineer/officer. He relinquished his technical career to research and write about human development from spiritual, moral, social, intellectual, and physical perspectives. You can reach Errol at Website: www.ffhdwritersinc.com/Email: info@ffhdwritersinc.com/Tel: 905-875-4956.

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