Fresno, Calif., Increase in violent crime reflects national trend
Violence is increasing. Domestic terrorism is increasing, including threats against members of Congress. The FBI has just published its Annual Report on crime. The bad news is that violent crime is on the rise.
So let’s think about the silence of violence. Violence produces bad results. It’s also silly in a metaphorical sense. Violence does not speak, it rumbles. Like a roaring lion, he does not argue. He only threatens and attacks.
Violence can be spectacular. It catches our attention. But violence does not really seek to persuade. Persuasion requires an argument. Acts of violence are not arguments. This is why violence neither creates nor converts.
The horrible truth about violence is well known. Gandhi explained it. Like Martin Luther King, Jr. Both advocated nonviolence as a higher path.
October 2 marks Gandhi’s birthday and is an International Day of Non-Violence. Gandhi said that even when the violence seems to be good, it is only temporary. Nonviolence creates lasting change because, as Gandhi explained, nonviolence is a “conversion process. “Instead of destroying those you hate, nonviolence builds bridges and finds common ground.
Gandhi demonstrated that organized non-violence can be a powerful force for change. Martin Luther King Jr. applied this method in the United States.
In his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize lecture, King Explain criticism of violence thus: “Despite temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. It doesn’t solve any social problem; it just creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a downward spiral ending in destruction for all.
This truth is reaffirmed as we reflect on the consequences of the war on terrorism. After 20 years of war, one wonders if the war was worth it. The war in Afghanistan teaches us that violence is a brutal instrument to transform hearts and minds.
The “Costs of war” project at Brown University provides a recent summary. Adding up the deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, they estimate that nearly 930,000 people have been killed in the war on terrorism. This includes more than 7,000 US military personnel. About 38 million people have been displaced as war refugees. The war is estimated to have cost $ 8 trillion.
We killed Osama bin Laden and other terrorist brains. But terrorists are still hiding in the shadows. And the Taliban quickly returned to power. The war has not solved the social, political and cultural problems that give rise to terrorism and oppressive regimes such as the Taliban.
War is a destructive force which breeds reactive antagonism. It does not educate, does not democratize, does not humanize. Political violence does not create just or lasting change. Rather, it destabilizes and provokes, causing polarization and pain.
This truth about war and violence is easily ignored. There is a primary need to use violence. We are animals after all. Like the lion, we roar. When pushed, we attack.
The moral traditions of the world teach us to subdue the inner lion. We’re not just animals, after all. We are human beings. We can learn to “turn the other cheek” and resist animal aggression. This is the message of Jesus and the Buddha, as well as Gandhi and the king.
Our own culture often ignores this message. We celebrate violence. Pop culture is full of gangsters and cops, super-spies and superheroes. Our culture encourages us to mistakenly believe that power does good and that ultimately the good are justified in using violence.
But we are not superheroes. We are fragile and imperfect beings. And unlike a James Bond fantasy, real lives are destroyed when we extricate the lion.
The good news is that we are intelligent beings. We can learn from our mistakes. Violence involves a kind of blissful self-confidence. He fails because he treats other human beings like animals and objects to be manipulated by physical force. But human beings are not convinced by violence. We are motivated by pride and love, reason and morality.
Non-violence is not always effective. But in the long run it is wiser to keep the lion in its cage. Nonviolence appeals to the best angels of our nature. He treats human beings with the care and respect we deserve.
Andrew Fiala is professor of philosophy and director of the Fresno State Center for Ethics. Contact him: [email protected]