Skip to main content

The V Word

There are very few concepts or propositions in our current iteration of society that are held with more contempt than the very notion of violence.

Violence is almost inherently a bad word. You dare not be violent toward your neighbor. You dare not be violent toward your family. And you absolutely dare not be violent toward the infinitely benevolent guardians and authors of law and order, that being law enforcement and/or politicians.

It makes sense, especially given that violence, in its most unrestrained form, can have the consequence of death. While there is definitely some debate regarding taking another human’s life, especially in regards to voluntary euthanasia or self-defense, there is little debate as to whether murder or the willful desire to harm someone else is wrong. And for good reason, in my opinion.

An interesting question comes into this equation, though. If violence is this unequivocally horrendous deed, in which the theft of someone’s life is one of the most morally reprehensible acts one can engage in, then why is it the backbone of our nation?

If a man determines that his neighbor is a threat to his livelihood in some sense or another, or has the potential to do so, legally it would be wrong for him to think about, plan, and execute his murder. It would also be wrong for him to organize and find a hitman to take out the neighbor on his behalf. The man would more than likely face a trial, be determined guilty, and end up in prison, serving whatever sentence that the judicial system sees fit for him. That seems to be fairly reasonable: a punishment befitting the crime.

But what happens when our nation decides that the developing values or cultural zeitgeist of another country has the potential to disrupt the moral and political foundations of which our country has built itself upon? Like our violent man in the previously given example, our country may decide that it’s time to step in and get involved. And our nation similarly does what the man does. It thinks about and executes a meticulous plan to eliminate this threat. In some cases, this may be through direct action such as military occupation or “boots on the ground,” and in other cases it may be through the allocation of funds and resources to rebel groups that essentially serve as proxies to our own military interests.

But unlike the example of the man who executes his neighbor, this is seen not as a crime, but a civic duty and a virtue. A demonstration of noble sacrifices in order to extol the outstanding morality of our nation. To fight for freedom and peace not through the use of diplomacy and understanding, but with shrapnel and steel. And the people who execute these ideals are not served with prison time, punishment, or demonization, but with medals, celebration, and cheers.

Now the argument is simple, right? Violence for the sake of violence is wrong, and violence is acceptable in utilitarian terms, in which a population decides that it’s for the greater good. But the determination of what the greater good is lies in the hands of politicians and powerful interests, who have their own biases and human desires for engaging in such conflicts. Perhaps it’s the acquisition of material wealth that inspires them so, or the desire to retain the current political and global standing that the nation has.

Unfortunately for us, the determination of morally righteous violence is sort of an arbitrary concept at this point in time. What’s good for us is really whatever is determined by multimillion-dollar ad campaigns, the proliferation and crafting of narratives by political and corporate interests, and what societal pressures push us to believe is good for us. With the right amount of propaganda and emotional appeal, any cause, no matter how morally bankrupt, can be adopted as a just cause by enough people to garner unequivocal support for said cause.

Our nation’s strategy is to destroy, exert control, and stir things up to weaken others, so that we may retain our power. But god forbid anyone within the nation decides to follow the values that our nation so openly and excessively practices. We preach very differently from what we practice.

The condemnation of violence is a reasonable thing, but I find it unreasonable that the state has virtually given itself a monopoly on exerting violence as it pleases, whilst entirely restricting that right amongst its people. It even allows itself to exert violence among its own people, through the use of law enforcement and the like. But again, god forbid a citizen defends themselves against an officer of the law acting unjustly.

To condemn violence and celebrate it simultaneously is insanity of the utmost degree. It is a strange dynamic that seems hypocritical at best and entirely malicious at worst.

Let us continue to preach peace and prosperity while murdering civilians abroad. Surely that must be the best way to spread our message of peace. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Notes on Culture and Primitive Man

Primitive humans, through their lived experience, lived lives that were wholly satisfying: they engaged in work that was meaningful and personal, they had constant challenges and mental stimulation, an unrestricted sense of autonomy, and a sense of adventure belying the entire thing. Humans had no choice but to derive meaning from a life that was exhilarating at every moment. Every choice was meaningful and required an unparalleled trust in one’s ability to overcome the next obstacle. It was an enduring but highly satisfying test to see if you had what it took to have mastery over life.  And in our chase toward rapid industrialization, we have lost the personal touch of what it means to be human. Many of the activities we engage in are indeed surrogates for that which were once accomplished and deemed satisfying by primitive man. Take video games or movies, for example. One engages in adventurous, dramatic, action-packed, or otherwise exhilarating genres to induce pleasure in oneself.

To Care Beyond Yourself

We humans are an entertaining bunch, aren't we? At one moment we care for our neighbors, we nurture our communities, and are joined in solidarity when tragedy strikes. At another moment, we find ourselves viciously reaching for each others' throats for the most trivial and banal of opinions. We seem to be in constant flux, feeling the desire for great love and care whilst simultaneously feeling the desire for great violence and dominion over those we view as inferior. What a precarious situation we seem to find ourselves in on a day to day basis; we care too much for others at the expense of ourselves, or we care too much about ourselves that we crush others and leave them by the wayside. Of course, the world doesn't always function in such moral absolutes. We all do what is in our best interest, after all. But how do we know that what we're doing is in our best interest? I'd argue that more often than not, we are absolutely clueless. The world and universe seem to

A Common Enemy

Many works of art in history have demonstrated an idea of human unity: the idea that, if faced with a disaster that seeks to destroy humanity, we will all forget all of our minor transgressions and band together as one race to fight the enemy head-on. Whether the media presents it as an alien invasion, a meteor, a great evil wizard, or some other seemingly insurmountable threat, the core concept remains, which is that through our collective power, we can stand up to any enemy, no matter how terrifying or powerful. This is especially useful in the act of warfare. The way Americans united against the Japanese threat by interning Japanese-Americans in camps on their own soil. The way the profiling of Muslims increased after 9/11, as Americans were thoroughly convinced that Muslims are far more dangerous than other people. The amount of civilians and innocent people that have been eliminated from the face of the Earth for no other reason than in the name of “freedom” and “democracy,” which