• July 23, 2023

Top 10 Ways to Reduce Violence

I happen to live near one of the tragic “school shootings” of the recent past, and have seen how the grievance, anger, anguish, and upheaval have impacted our community. It has brought home that a general abhorrence of violence is not enough. While I’m sure others will have different, and perhaps wise, suggestions on how to reduce violence, these are my top 10 ways to reduce violence. If you can improve them, I appreciate your feedback, but I suspect it may be more important and helpful if you write a letter to your local newspaper or school board. Together, we can reduce and perhaps eliminate violence.

1. Disconnect anger from violence. I am convinced that human beings get angry and that anger at injustice is often justified. There’s a healthy anger that insists, “There’s got to be a better way!” I fall silent when I hear parents tell children, “You shouldn’t be angry.” Instead, tell them, “Your feelings are okay, you can be angry, but you can’t hit or hurt others.”

2. See the connection between the love of violence and violence itself. The fascination with brutality, guns and bombs, war and evil should increase the chances of violent behavior. I can’t prove that, it just seems likely to me.

3. See the connection between all levels of violence. Insults and teasing, humiliation and shame are forms of violence. When we treat people badly, it shouldn’t surprise us that they look for a way to “get even.”

4. Take all violence seriously. Bullies on the playground and sibling rivalries don’t have to be accepted as a part of life, at least not when kids are being hurt. Kids fighting over “my toy” is one thing; hitting or pulling hair or knocking each other down is something else. We don’t have to accept it as normal behavior.

5. Take angry and troubled people seriously. We talked about the need for more early intervention with troubled children, and I agree. But people of all ages get caught up in situations they can’t handle, with emotions they don’t know how to express. Domestic violence, violence between co-workers and between children should always be treated as a serious matter. Hitting, hurting and threatening to hurt is not okay.

6. Deal with the availability of weapons. Knives, cars and a thousand other things kill people too, but guns have a unique place in the American imagination. Of course, they also have a place in the rich tradition of hunting and target shooting. I don’t have all the answers, but hunting seems different than having military-style weapons available in millions of homes across the country. There must be a better system.

7. Recognize the connection between violent images and violent behavior. I hate censorship, so this one is hard. But if 30-second footage can sell us lipstick and Buicks, and change the way we vote, it seems likely that hours upon hours of explosions, shootings, brawls, and mayhem could influence behavior as well. To be frank, I’m particularly concerned about violence in video games and the amount of violent “action-adventure” movies we support as a culture. Something strange is happening!

8. Recognize the connection between sports and violent behavior. Again, sports is a hallowed icon in American culture, but it seems sports have been separated from athletics. Instead of every kid participating in gym class and competing in intramural sports, we have a culture of superstar superheroes who are virtually above the law. Hockey, basketball, soccer, and other sports tolerate conduct that would result in an arrest for assault outside the sports arena. Competition and fitness are valuable; Organized violence is not acceptable!

9. Recognize the connection between language and violence. Business uses the language of the battlefield, and sports are full of encouragement to “go out there and kill,” “butcher them,” and “knock their brains out.” Our legal system is based on the idea of ​​the lawyer’s battle. While hiring a manager to fight with words instead of clubs was a huge step forward in the Middle Ages, perhaps our society is ready for an even higher level of conflict resolution.

10. See the violence in ourselves. Sometimes I find myself so angry that I “daydream” about the violence, or “really show it.” I hear jokes that use the phrase “Shoot the bastards!” I know if “looks can kill” or cutting statements really make you bleed, I’d be in deep trouble. Violence is not just someone else’s problem. I must work for peace, love and better conflict resolution in my own life. And you?

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