Saturday, August 16, 2014

Violence



We have been told so often that violence is not the answer, that many now believe that it can solve nothing. That is a lie. There is nothing inherently wrong or evil in violence. The use of violence does not mark the user as either good or evil based merely upon its use. What determines if the use of violence was good or ill comes from the context of its use and it is there that we find our answer.

Long ago, we would try to discern if the use of violence was justified or not. But that was before the brain dead use of zero tolerance. For example if a fight erupted at school, the school officials would make an effort to determine who was the aggressor. The one defending would be absolved of guilt and the aggressor would be punished. Today, no matter how much one is beat upon, no matter the insults or questions regarding one's parentage, if you even try to resist you are wrong. Even if it costs you your life.

From children tossed out of school for eating a pop tart into the shape of a gun to using your fingers in the same fashion, both are equally guilty as if they had armed themselves with a genuine firearm and unloaded on their classmates. Both are turned over to the police, both are chastised and sent home with the stain of violence marking them just as certainly as the scarlet A marked an adulterer in Nathaniel Hawthorne's book. Of course, the intent here is to turn them into sheep. Dull, quiet, and obedient.

But that is not man. We are who we were made to be: the apex predator. The deadliest foe on the planet. Dominant and prideful, filled with confidence. But that proved far too bloody and destructive to society. So we created laws to govern the interactions of men. The tide of chaos was stemmed and man became civilized. Order arose out of chaos and anarchy. But that order had to be maintained by violence in order to blunt our predatory instincts.

The use of violence is referenced when we see the gun on the hip of the uniformed police officer. His authority is represented by his badge. His uniform signals him as an enforcer. He is nothing short of an agent of state authority. The Courts use force as well. Is not incarceration an example of the use of force? Do not armed guards secure the prisons and the court rooms? If violence were truly unnecessary, why would law enforcers need to be armed? Because violence is still required to bridle the spirit of man.

The second amendment insures that all men can have access to arms. It ensures that the citizen will live free because no one man will be able to subdue him by force without resistance. This is the point that is missed so often by those who wring their hands and moan about violence. They blame the act and not the perpetrator. Because to assign blame one must examine the case and the merits of the force used. Too much trouble, better to use the brain dead approach and just denounce the use of force in general. Easier, quicker, and it has the advantage of not requiring any thought.

It does not matter that violence was necessary. It does not matter if there were good reasons for using force. It only matters that violence was used. Violence is not to be eschewed from a Christian perspective either. Many try to use the ten commandments as an example that no one should use violence. But was it not Christ Himself that tossed the money lenders out on their collective asses? Did He not use force to underscore His point? God even sanctioned the use of force when he told Joshua to destroy Jericho and then brought down its walls so that he could. Why?

Because violence is sometimes necessary? Yes, but there are moral reasons for the use of violence. John Stuart Mill said of pacifism, "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." Mill was speaking from a Utilitarian ethical perspective.

From an individual perspective, if one believes that the individual has a right to prevent harm or death to himself or others, as our laws clearly do, then one must subscribe to the rightness of the second amendment which provides the means to do so. While one can assert that guns cause gun violence, the evidence to the contrary is indisputable. After removing arms from the citizens of Australia, the Aussies studied violent crime. It did not drop as they had expected. Rather, it substantially increased. The only difference was that now, Aussies could no longer effectively defend themselves and became the victims of predators because the government had removed their teeth. Thus the Australian government surmised that gun control has no influence on violent crime. A pity that they did not reverse course after making that discovery.

The reason that gun control has no impact on violent crime is because the firearm is a symptom and not the cause of violence. Violent crime originates in the will of the individual. Whether the firearm can be obtained legally or not is of no consequence. Just as human nature can be submerged in order to achieve a specific goal or objective, the desire to do violence can also be submerged. But if submerged long enough, it will override human control and emerge with a vengeance. This is basic psychology, where does gun control legislation enter in to the calculation?

It is only when the state does not trust the individual that it seeks to disarm the public. Every time a public has been disarmed, tyranny has followed. Every time. Just as there is a balance between good and evil, there is a political balance as well. If the state is the only one who can use force and there is no counter, then tyranny will follow because it is in man's nature to dominate his fellow man. Only the opposition to the state by the force of arms prevents this.

As evidence of this opposition, I give you George Washington, "[T]he hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are Freemen, fighting for the blessings of Liberty -- that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men." Though there are many today who would decry such a sentiment. Never mind that those who would do so live under the very freedom that the blood spilt by these men provided it. Even the Almighty is not immune to this tampering with the nature of reality.

God has been called unconditional love for so long, that He is now considered to be nothing, but love. Referring to my Jericho example above, that is clearly a false assertion. My God is also a God of vengeance and righteous anger. A God who avenges His people. But He is also a God of love and peace. While the Almighty prefers peace and harmony, He is not above using force to avenge wrongs. Something that modern Christians are uncomfortable discussing. This is the position that we now find violence in. Even from an evolutionary perspective, violence is expected.

An individual unwilling to defend himself is weak from an evolutionary perspective. He would not long survive in man's natural state. Therefore, his genes would be removed early. To a large extent, laws limit the influence of evolution in the breeding of the species and weaker individuals rise to predominance where once they would have been eliminated by nature. This has led to the weak leading the people and attempting to subvert millions of years of evolution. It may be nice if we were all wired to be meek, but that is certainly not the case with man. We are the apex predator, remember?

We have honed our predatory skills over millions of years. Do you really think that 8,000 years of civilization can erase that? Without aggression, what is a predator? In a word, prey. If there are members of our race that mean us harm, then violence is necessary to defend one's family and one's self from harm. In short, it is a necessity. This is a truth that even Gene Roddenberry admitted in Star Trek. He envisioned a future devoid of famine, want, and political strife. But even that cornucopian future did not eliminate the need for violence because sometimes, violence is the answer.

It is certainly preferable to find non-violent solutions wherever possible, but there are times when violence must be met with violence. Robert E. Lee once said "It is well that war is so terrible, or we would grow too fond of it.” A bittersweet sentiment that alludes to the lure of violence and it's devastation when used. Two sides of the same coin. But that sentiment speaks more of character than pugnacity. For it is in the character that we judge the use of violence.

What was the threat or provocation? What were the emotions experienced by the individual? In short, we try to place ourselves into the position of the one who used force to determine if it was a justified action or not. If the use was justified, we excuse it. If not, we condemn and punish. By condemning all violence one must also condemn the right to defend one's self and family. I can imagine nothing so horrible as to be forced to stand idly by and watch one's children be victimized by an assailant. The cruelty of that position is diabolical in nature. But it is the same cruelty that we allow to be inflicted on school children as we demand that they take a beating without raising a hand. It is madness.

We used to live in a world where honor and character were celebrated and encouraged and violence was accepted as a normal response to abnormal circumstances. We need to return to that world or we are all lost.

4 comments:

Bunkerville said...

The so called "Thin Blue Line" is eroding quickly thanks to many who choose to deride and dismiss this very dangerous occupation. Similarly, the same is being done to our military. It is the final step in our country turing into nothing more than "The Lord of the Flies." Unless American wakes up and realizes that we are/were a Blessed Nation bestowed by our creator for a special place in the world, we are indeed lost.

William Stout said...

Many of the "Thin Blue Line" have left law enforcement because of the unreasonable expectations placed upon them. People, like Sharpton, descend on towns like parasites and gin up the crowds inciting violence and crime. Have you noticed that the riots seem to go on for weeks now? That is a lot of anger.

Violence committed in anger is wrong according to our laws. But there is Sharpton, riling up the crowds so that he can make a buck and he doesn't care about who gets hurt along the way. I have to believe that there is a special place in Hell reserved for a man like that.

paul scott said...

Strength brother,I hope your Wife and children well. We have election in my country soon.I will be back,

William Stout said...

Hopefully that will resolve the issues in Thailand, Paul. My brother just returned home and he has filled me in on some of the problems there. Unfortunately, our Ambassador is likely going to stay there until Obama is replaced. I hope that you are yours are doing fine as well.