A Simple Way to Deal with Violence


Most people who have some faith in kindness and love would advocate and support non-violence over violence. When asked to choose between violence and non-violence, the latter would be a unanimous choice for most. All religions prescribe non-violence as the better way to deal with situations.

However, the history of civilization is replete with violence. The formation of nation states, colonialism, imperialism, national movements for independence and self-determination, and in fact every aspect of human history is stained with blood. Survival of the fittest at times is understood in the parlance of violence. People readily engage in violent means to deal with difficult situations when it comes to survival.

Violence seems to be a horrifying word, but in reality we have become so accustomed to violence that it no longer upsets or perturbs our sense of order and balance. In fact, we have reached such a point of saturation where violence can no longer arouse any genuinely strong emotions in us.

Human rights’ violations, murder, genocide, civil and inter-state conflicts or war that end in the deaths of thousands have become so commonplace that we can watch news showing people getting bombarded and mutilated even while having dinner.  At most, we criticize and feel sorry or repugnant but we are never taken aback and our life goes on as usual.

Mostly, we think that we cannot do anything about the mess that is happening in some other part of the world. And when we know that we could do something, we prefer to stay away rather than get involved. Few choose to get involved. Few think that it is not normal to sit back and watch violence spreading its wings and swallowing innocent lives. And the few who become intimately involved and make a mess of their own lives become examples for us; to justify our decision to remain passive and nonchalant.

I know I am not the best person to criticize people who choose to remain uninvolved and carry on with their lives, while people are being tortured, killed and massacred, because I am no better. But I do feel concerned about how we do not feel disturbed.

I do get perturbed when I see an attitude of indifference amongst people, while our fellow human beings are suffering and dying for no reason. At times I question if it is normal not to feel any anguish about the violence that has entrenched itself all around us. Should we really not be worried about the indifference which has seeped within us?

And I truly believe it is not normal. It is not normal to think that it is none of our business if people in some other part of the world are dying in civil wars or in wars between countries. It is really not normal at all to shrug our shoulders and refuse to take any responsibility for the violence that has engulfed humanity. It is really not normal at all to play safe and stay away when innocent small children become victims of state politics.

Many of us might think that we are doing whatever we can, by voicing our opinion against brutal actions of governments against our citizens, terrorist attacks, genocide, criminal activities and other forms of violence against humanity. However, what I am questioning is not what we can do in our capacity, but about our insouciance.

Human history has witnessed violence in all its forms and intensity. There is no denying it. Violence is obviously not a contemporary phenomenon. But globalization is. People are more connected than ever before in human history. People are aware of what is happening all around the world. Moreover somehow, we believe that over time, humans have realized that violence is not the solution to the problems that infest humanity.

We preach non-violence as a sustainable solution. We have come up with institutions to deal with and deter violence in any form against humanity and every life form. We are witnessing an increasing number of people becoming involved with such institutions to fight against violence and human rights’ violations. Numerous organizations are taking up the task of promoting human welfare and such organizations are expanding as people are joining them each and every day. It seems that never before in human history have people been so concerned and conscious of their responsibility towards their fellow human beings. But sadly, violence has refused to bow down.

I think that what is missing is the work at the very grassroots level.

As the well-known quote says: “Charity begins at home”; similarly I believe that indifference and apathy also begin at home. Somehow, we are all responsible in some way for perpetuating the indifference and apathy that is encroaching on our sense of brotherhood and humanity. On the one hand, we continue to discuss and preach about human rights, animal rights, and environmental rights in public. But seldom do we engage with our inner self and seriously ponder the seriousness of the suffering of others. We react in earnest ways to violence only when such problems concern us or our immediate surroundings. Otherwise, we prefer to live in our bubble and profess lofty ideals of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Violence is perpetuated by humans against humans. And every one of us can contribute in a significant way to deterring the use of violence by engaging first and foremost with our inner selves and nurturing the beautiful emotion of empathy. Violence cannot entrench itself in our surroundings and swallow innocent lives if empathy is allowed to grow within us.


Image Title Author License
Non-Violence_(sculpture)_Caen Non-Violence_(sculpture)_Caen Mrsmokeybear CC BY-SA 4.0