Violence has been on my mind. A lot. I’ve done a couple “shame on you” posts lately about people I love and respect indulging in the debasement and demoralization of fellow human beings that fall outside of their belief camp. They’re a waste of words. Only a frustrated reaction when I feel helpless against the tides of emotional violence around me. I’m afraid it’s contagious and that I’ll eventually succumb to all my judgmental tendencies and join in with the self-righteous, pointing fingers…having all the answers. Of course I want to. Who doesn’t love being right?
I’ve been thinking about war (yes, timely) and the millions of infinitesimal reasons we have to fight. Opinions suddenly loom so much bigger in our lives than they once did. They’ve been gaining momentum for years and now the zeal is leaking into every single thing. We’re all so disgusted and appalled by differing opinions and beliefs.
You can’t ignore the media’s role in this, or the insidious internet algorithms, designed for your mental and spiritual comfort, ensuring you rarely encounter ideas that challenge your beliefs on the internet. Results bolster what you already think, and your suspicions are cemented. This double team inflates us with pride and belonging, kindles our blood against our enemies, and reminds us of just how many people are out there, waiting to violate us in some way. We all have our pet fears. Losing solvency. Terrorism. Discrimination. Sexism. Starvation. A total loss of freedom. Disease. Plague. Police states. Socialism. Religious extremism. The death of the planet. So many things.
The psychology of marketing is interesting. It targets and exploits with precision and make no mistake, it is a science. And it is employed daily. Every successful business pays close attention to its marketing. And we are surrounded by nothing but business. I think we’ve all come to accept that government is business, just as media is. Think on that.
As all of these things collected like a cloud of debris in my mind, an idea started to form. As a pacifist, I’ve been faced with confronting the reality that non-violence is a form of enabling aggression. And I know…violence begets more violence. I know that. But allowing perpetual violence to be committed against you really isn’t fun. I don’t know the answer. I never arrived at a better understanding of this issue but I was wondering why some people are constantly living a paranoid lifestyle, even when they remain unaffected by violence. They may hear of it happening to others, but they are still enjoying relative peace and comfort. (You know the sort, you may be living it yourself…collecting food and guns, preparing for the worst. Keeping abreast of the latest and greatest intrusions on your freedoms. Living life in a sort of outrage against all the things that might happen and seeing the things that ARE happening as proof that things are progressively getting worse.)
There’s nothing wrong with being prepared. But there is a point at which preparation becomes such a source of preoccupation that the enjoyment of life is diminished in degrees and the people experiencing it don’t even seem to be aware of it. Life becomes about retaining what little peace/freedom/abundance you have left and you begin to see blessings as things that are about to be taken from you. People in this state are on edge. People on edge are prone to violence. I don’t mean in a mentally unstable way. I mean being on edge almost always precedes violence. It is often the next step in an escalating progression of events, whether it’s emotional violence or physical violence.
Everyone wants peace even if they don’t think its attainment on a global scale is realistic. Everyone wants personal peace for themselves. Every single last person. And for there to be global peace, personal peace will have to come first. I’ve been thinking about our media dominated lifestyles in this country and how everything about it is the antithesis of personal peace. We are manipulated into this constant state of outrage and watchfulness. We are a country constantly on edge with each other, enjoying brief respites of peace here and there. We pepper our days with videos of cats doing silly things and heartwarming pay-it-forward stories. We hope for a sense of community and try to make our encounters with other humans civil or even friendly. But the war machine is always there, reminding us to be afraid and not wanting to be caught off guard and unprepared, we relent and reluctantly follow the white rabbit down the hole of “truths” we will need to survive in this hostile world and we live life on edge. And there is no peace.