Firing Squad by Wiley Wiggins

(Photo Credit: Wiley Wiggins)

In light of terrible recent events which have once again devastated families and sent the public reeling and questioning ‘why’, I’m moved to express my feelings on the subject of violence not only in schools, but in society as a whole, and in my own experience.

This most recent shooting reflects what seems to be an epidemic of violence in American schools, and although the sentiment is predominantly one of distress, both American and foreign psyche’s have exhibited a lack of ‘shock’ or ‘disbelief’ as these incidents continue to occur. One thing I noticed in many forums and discussions about the incident is an underlying current of bitterness, anger, disgust, and even hatred. I’ve heard people say everything from, “It’s the parent’s fault because teachers don’t teach kids violence” to “It’s pathetic that people in this world can’t get along” to “It’s this apathetic generation” to “People have a severe lack of morals” to “Kids are desensitized by too much violence on TV and movies”, to “They (shooters) are sick f*cks)” – I could go on and on. (By the way, the “sick f*ck” who got up that day to commit mass murder was a 15 year old boy.)

New Picture (2)New Picture (3)

In a sentence, I have to wonder if emphatic statements such as these are in any way helpful or if, in fact, they reflect the very root of the problem.

I doubt that violent school shootings (and stabbings, and beatings, and bullying) say anything about “others” as much as they say about ALL OF US. WE are the world. Our collective consciousness (a misnomer, because conscious means ‘aware’, whereas the mind works almost exclusively sub or unconsciously) is violent, as is our individual consciousness. Many may disagree with this assessment but if one has the courage to look at one’s own thoughts and feelings one might be horrified at the kind of violence one commits each and every day against those that one claims to ‘love’.

Inside each of us lies a hidden world of greed, anger, envy, hatred, pride, vanity, lust etc. Why don’t we SEE how these thoughts and feelings inside us play out in our own little lives every moment? Aren’t our ‘little crimes’ just a microcosm of the collective insanity? We each live in our own small back yard, ruling over our own little world, but the entire world is made up of ‘small back yards’; nations are made up of ‘small back yards’. In fact, all humanity is a division between families, neighbors, states, tribes, nations, countries, political parties, religions, social and economic ideologies and so on. But do we SEE the extent of this division between man and man, not only on a ‘grand scale’ but also in our every day lives? Do we SEE that external division is directly related to the division (which is conflict) within each and every one of us? – “I want this, I don’t want that; I like this I don’t like that; this is good, this is bad etc.” How many people AM I??

Relationships by Eric Parker

(Photo Credit: “Relationships” by Eric Parker)

If we  aren’t aware of the violence within our own selves then we are blind. We are all to blame for the violence in the world, no matter what form it happens to take, but it’s much easier to say “It’s the fault of the other”, or “it’s the teacher’s fault” or the “parent’s fault” or the “system’s fault”. But I must ask the question: “Who am I if not the other’s ‘other’?”; “Who taught the teacher?”; “Who raised the children who became parents?”; “Who created the system?”

“People are sick”; “It’s pathetic that people can’t get along” – do WE get along with the people in our lives? All the violence we are up in arms about is nothing more than a magnification of the inner state of each of our being’s, of ALL OF US.

By the way, has anyone noticed the violence in all these threads which express ‘hatred’ and ‘disgust’? Will throwing stones relieve the world of a little misery, or add to it? I feel so sad.

New Picture

But let me not indulge in this sadness, nor any other reaction. Let me never react psychologically (from the inside) to anything which “happens” externally (on the outside). My personal experience tells me there’s a huge difference between a REaction and an ACTion. I react all the time, and in my reactions there is almost always some form of violence, but when one ACTS one determines logically, sanely, and thoughtfully. One can say, “Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there’s another approach” without feeling the pinch of pride. A true ACT is simply the ability to SEE in one’s own self what one claims to see in others. I neutralize sadness and continue…

It’s probably always preferable to begin with a question instead of an answer, and “why are human beings so violent?” is one of mine. To find out ‘why’, however, I have to question the statement that “teachers don’t teach kids violence” and “Kids are desensitized by too much violence on TV and movies”.

As far as school and teachers are concerned, I find our system of education extremely violent, but that’s not to say that the violence is intentional or that people are conscious of it. Take for instance the last day of school when my little girl had her 1st grade “recognition ceremony” wherein children are ‘recognized’ for their ‘special achievements’. The intention is ‘good’. The intention is to boost confidence and/or to give incentive for kids to to do better.

BUT HOW DOES THIS ‘GOOD INTENTION’ ACTUALLY PLAY OUT?

Frank Serritelli

(Photo Credit: Frank Serritelli)

Do you believe that the majority of children are thinking “Wow, I did so great! I’m so happy!” or are the majority thinking, “Hey, how come I didn’t get ‘good author’ or good artist? I’m really good at those things!” Isn’t the latter thought (which is a reaction) more likely the reality? I know that as a parent my first REaction was to think “why didn’t they give her ‘great author!?”, but then I stepped back and saw the violence in that reaction. I SAW that such a reaction is both a cause and a result of the entire misguided attempt at ‘teaching intelligence’ and teaching ‘success’.

Obviously, society as a whole and educators and parents and priests and the rest, are not just role models, but judges. Using a system of reward and punishment they compare children to each other and in turn, encourage them to compare themselves to others. Ambition and competition are hailed as the great measure of a ‘free’ world, but how can I ever truly be free or peaceful or loving if I’m stuck to the idea that ‘success’ is being or doing better than others? Can we consider the possibility that what we’re actually doing is promoting violence, breeding violence, encouraging and exhibiting violent behavior by living according to a standard of measurement wherein the sense of “who I am” is based solely on “who I think I should be.”

Can hierarchy and sharing coexist - opensource.com

(Image Credit: “Can Hierarchy and Sharing Co-Exist?” – OpenSource.com)

If I want to “succeed” in school, in society, I must be “better” than someone else; someone must be ‘worse’ than me. And our entire lives are dedicated to this ideal of ‘success’ and we live not by our own measuring sticks, but by how others measure us, by how society sees us, by the common belief system (which is society in general and if I may be so bold, society in general is flipping mad!). If I pit one child against another by encouraging them to compete, not against themselves, but against the whole world, is that not violence? They will spend their entire lives chasing an image of ‘success’ which first of all can never be attained – someone will always be ‘better or prettier or smarter’ or richer’ and thus, ‘more successful than me” – and second of all creates an inner state of conflict which breeds jealousy, anger, bitterness, greed, envy, and most of all, insecurity.

2014 ca usaw kids freestyle state - john sachs

(Photo Credit: John Sachs)

Consider grades and testing: the ecstasy of getting an A and the humiliation of getting an F. I must ask “What is SUCCESS?” Is it a few moments of ecstasy? Is it a few moments of power or a lifetime of fame and fortune? Is it a persona of ‘victim’ or of ‘poorest’ or ‘most unfortunate of all”? For me, my child is successful if she is JOYFUL. My child is successful if she does what she loves for its own sake and not for the sake of the system, nor for fear of judging eyes pressuring her to mimic so called ‘role models’ , and certainly not by comparing herself to others!

When will we begin to consider (let alone implement) a new standard for the definition of ‘success’?

As to the question of violence on TV and in movies, I do agree the violence is rampant, but can we look at it another way? Are children who watch violent content on media victims of advertisers and producers and directors, or does the media (manipulative as they may be) cater to the masses? Isn’t it true that no one can sell a product to anyone who refuses to buy it? But the masses LOVE violence, and therefore violence is mass produced and the seats at the amphitheater’s are SOLD OUT. Who is it that created this circus? Is it the media? Or is it the people whose demand for drama, conflict, blood and gore remains insatiable? Please ask the question, ‘wouldn’t the media adapt and change the content of programming if the demand changed?”

The fact is that plugging into television is akin to plugging into the consciousness of the masses, and not the consciousness of the minorities. Please ask yourself if Hitler or Stalin or any other dictator could have ever risen to power without the successful manipulation of the people – but why should we be so easily manipulated!? (I know it’s an extreme example but so very valid).

Hitler the Hero

Has anyone considered the fact that ACTUALLY very few murders and violent crimes over the last century were the handiwork of criminals or the criminally insane? In fact, the BULK of violent crimes over the last century alone have been committed by “very respectable people….citizens. Even concentration camps were built by respectable people!” (ET; Living a Life of Inner Peace).

I appreciate teachers and I do not in any way blame teachers or schools, just as I don’t blame parents as such, not because they are or are not contributing to the whole of human violence, but because they do it unconsciously – because WE ALL contribute to violence unconsciously each and every day, yet refuse to admit that the violence ‘out there’ is just a projection of the violence within us. We put on a show and act as though what we want is peace and love and harmony, but how we actually behave is in direct conflict with peace – has anyone noticed this in themselves? That’s why laws and entire political, economic, and social structures have all eventually failed despite any “good intention”.

Peace

The human being looks outwardly to solve a problem. We seek to blame others for the world’s problems without bothering to look HONESTLY at our own reactions and behaviors. We look at others and say “There is the problem! That is what must be fixed! Create another law! Build another wall! Fight another war! Wave another flag! Hold up another banner demanding peace!” – Unfortunately, we fail to realize that we cannot change the world unless WE, each and every one of us, take responsibility for our own state of being.

I leave you with this final anecdote which happened just today:

peppa pig

My children were watching a charming little cartoon called “Peppa Pig” on the children’s network Nick Jr., and in the episode all the children in the class are assigned a different country to represent. While outside on the playground, the children begin to argue and fight among each other causing a big disturbance in the schoolyard. Soon the teacher, Madame Gazelle, comes out and scolds the children asking them:”Is this how you think all the countries of the world behave?”

Peppa Pig: “Don’t they?”

Madame Gazelle: “Of course  not!”

The children: “Sorry Madame Gazelle.”

peppa pigs countries don't fight

 

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