Violence strikes around planet earth in innumerable forms: wars, murder, theft, greed, bombs, discrimination, hate crimes, spousal abuse, gender abuse . . . maybe you would like to add a few of your own. The list is limitless and the consequences are catastrophic! Why does man destroy himself, other human beings, cities, countries and the world? What motivates him? Why is he consistently seeking . . . taking . . . harming and committing mayhem? Why is he so inclined to commit violence? These are a few of the questions this article seeks to answer, but before delving into the process of answering, there is another question that is essential to this discussion: What is violence?
In 1996, The World Health Organization defined violence as “The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual against oneself, another person, or a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychologist harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.” Mankind sometimes sees physical harm as the most destructive, but mental aggression can be just as destructive as physical force, because it gives one or some thing the capability, willingness and ability to act, thereby working mentally or physically on the individual’s mind. Mental destruction reduces the ability to use logic, reasoning and perception, thus taking away basic elements that are the driving force behind progress, courage, strength and hope. Faith and hope give a person a reason to keep striving for something better. Without it, he feels helpless, defeated and motionless.
WHERE DOES VIOLENCE ORIGINATE?
Psychologists maintain that violence stems from hurtfulness, stress, disappointment, and frustration. Secondly, that the person exhibiting these emotions feels he has no way of releasing them. Something inside of him is unresolved and unexpressed, he feels totally helpless, so . . . it moves him to commit violent acts. Violence is anger, rage unreleased! Craving some sought of release, the person beats his wife, strikes a child, burns a building, performs a hate crime or engages in warfare to express what he feels inwardly. Subtle violent acts occur in less noticeable signs. For example, the individual may spend billions to influence others to perpetrate crimes against those he wishes to do so personally, or he may finance laws that discriminate, motivate and initiate violent acts against individuals and countries.
The Wave Report says that two factors contribute to violence: the Propensity to Be Violent” and the Trigger to a Violent Act.” The first one lies within the individual and the second one resides externally–is environmental. It advocates that a key factor in triggering violence is lack of sympathy for an individual when he has the propensity for violence. More specifically, if a person exhibits symptoms of uncontrollable anger, offering sympathy to his argument for the cause of the anger, may calm his desire to use physical force. Thus, the sympathy or the understanding of what he is going through, serves as the environmental force that prevents the trigger for a violent act. Another example could be, if an individual who has the inclination to respond to conflict with violence decides to rob a bank, and all persons within the bank offer no resistance, he may collect the funds and leave without physical force. However, if one of the individuals in the bank says or does something that displays a sense of force or power, he may be beaten or killed by the intruder.
According to psychologists, the propensity to be violent starts at a very young age–2 years. Thus, researchers look at factors believed to be contributors to violence during female pregnancy, and are identifying ways to eliminate them. For example, smoking during pregnancy is listed as a “feeding ground” for future criminal behavior. There is also the argument that human beings are inherently violent–violence is a normal behavior–they are destined to violence. If this is true, seeking ways to prevent violence is a “wasted effort.”
A typical response to this line of reasoning is that the human mind has infinite trigger factors, and it is difficult to determine which one is “calling the shots” at any given time. There are, however, many steps that psychologists and community activists agree may stem the tide of violence. A few of them are listed below:
TWELVE COMMON STEPS TO PREVENT VIOLENCE
1. Stop Glorifying Violence in Any Form.
2. Share and Express Your Deepest Emotions through Tears, Not Rage
3. Solve Problems through Reason, Responsibility and Revelation.
4. Ban Handguns.
5. Remove Habitual Offenders from Society.
6. Ban Corporal Punishment.
7. Invest Money and Programs in At Risk Communities.
8. Remove Ingrain Social Norms that Lead to Domestic Abuse.
9. Develop Self-Esteem and Self-Worth
10. Help People Feel Safe and Secure.
11. Deal with Abuse, Poverty, Neglect and Abandonment Through Programs, Not Prisons.
12. Health and Nutrition.
While the writer has great respect and appreciation for the research and work that has been and is being done to alleviate violence, these efforts are mere “human band-aids” that only cover an ever re-occurring wound. There has to be a profound prescription that gets at the heart of all errors of human thinking and acting. That remedy is love–divine Love.
Divine Love is Never Violent
I hear you! Your voice is loud and clear! “We have sent ministers into prisons for years, and the people there come out more violent than when they went in. Parents teach Christianity to children and they grow up to be hardened criminals, that’s not going to help! You are one of those religious fanatics that believe preaching solves everything!” I could go on and on, but I ask you . . . hear me out.
First of all, there is a marked difference religion and spirituality. One is a set of rules and doctrines that a particular person or group adheres to, and practices in various degrees with countless interpretations (some good and some not good), while the other is the substance of Spirit that enters consciousness and takes away every thought, idea, concept and practice that does not reflect and express the essence of “love one another as I have loved you.” You say, “That’s a bunch of words with no meaning!” Fair enough, let’s begin giving meaning to them.
Learning and Understanding God and . . . Practicing Everything You Learn and Understand
Simple enough. Let’s get started!
- Get a large notebook and pen and write down how you define God. Who is God to you? Where is He? How do you communicate with Him? What are you saying to Him? What do you hear Him responding back to you? Is God Mind, Soul, Spirit, Love, Truth, Life or Principle–Divine Law? How do you define each one of these? If God is not those, why or why not? Is God less powerful than evil? Why or why not? Have you proved his power in your life? Do so, and see what it feels like. Empty every single thought you can generate answering the questions and statements in #1.
- Get a copy of the King James Version of the Bible, preferably not the New King James Version, a Bible Concordance and read as many citations as you can find using the words: Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth and Love. Take one verse (a different one) each day and write it on a piece of paper and practice it throughout the day, no matter the circumstance. When you have nice things happen to you, read or remember this verse. When you have evil things happen to you, read or remember this verse. When sickness hits you, remember this verse. When hate tries to enter your thought, remember this verse. If you get into an accident, read or remember this verse. Do this for six months.
- Who are you? How do you define yourself? Besides your name, birthday, birthplace, education, job, education, family or family background, who are you? What are some of the things you like about yourself? What are some of the things you do not like about yourself? How do you feel about your parents? Do the thoughts about them make you sad? Happy? Angry? Resentful? Do you have siblings? How do you feel about them? Which one makes you happy? Which one makes you sad? Have you spoken to your siblings recently? Why or why not? Do you feel good staying away from them? If you could change the way you feel about them what would that be? Are you married? How do you feel about your spouse? Are you happy with the way you are being treated or treating him/her? What would you change? Are you afraid to change? Why or why not? Using the same Bible and Bible Concordance, look up every verse/citation about man, person, child, child of God, image, likeness, perfection, righteousness, good, goodness, pure, purity, disease, death, destruction, sin. Carry one verse with you everyday for six months and use it in the same manner as you used the verses in #2.
- After one year, write down everything you know about God and man. Compare it with how you felt a year ago.
What am I doing? What am I saying? I am saying that many people have a very limited concept of God and the man He created, so their practice of religion yields little or no harmonious results. Consequently, they say religion does not work. I agree . . . religion does not work, but developing a close relationship with God does. This relationship requires daily work and due diligence . . like you do your job. You get out of it what you put in it. If mankind served God as diligently as he serves evil or material things, he would have a divine connection with God that would heal many things in his life that cause human suffering.
When a doctor gives you a prescription, do you follow it diligently? Some people have taken pills for years . . . they are part of their lives. What about serving God? Do you read, study, meditate or spend as much time with God as you do with medicine? Which do you feel is more powerful, God or pills? You say, “God created doctors to help us.” Are you sure? If that is the case, why didn’t Jesus use doctors to heal? No, Jesus is not God . . . he is the son of God as he said . . . and he told us we can do the works that he did. Many people do not believe him. How about you? I believe the words that Jesus spoke, consequently, I strive to heal myself of all forms of dis-ease–including sickness, anger, hate, bitterness, financial lack, fear and a multitude of others. Violent thoughts are quickly replaced with thoughts of kindness, compassion and forgiveness. It’s a thought-by-thought process–a daily effort to keep consciousness free of sin, sickness and death. A woman called Mary Baker Eddy says it best:
“The Christianly scientific man reflects the divine law, thus becoming a law unto himself. He does violence to no man. Neither is he a false accuser. The Christian Scientist wisely shapes his course, and is honest and consistent in following the leadings of divine Mind” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 458).
What does all of this have to do with curbing violence? If the hardened criminal, a child with a propensity for evil or any inharmonious thought or activity were met with the force and power of God as requested above, we would eliminate violence. The problem with many of our ministers and religions today, is that man does not practice what he preaches or reads, thus his understanding of God stays at a human level. Healing occurs with a change of thought–replacing evil thoughts with divine ones, coupled with allowing those improved thoughts to direct one’s words and actions. The more one demonstrates what he learns, the more he learns. Thoughts unexpressed in actions, have not the power to point the way to spiritual growth and development..
Changing thinking is a very difficult thing to do. The first step is convincing oneself that a thought needs to change–uncovering the hidden evil, bringing it to the surface of thought and then having the courage and patience to rid oneself of it. The best way to remove an evil thought is to replace it with a good or perfect one. For example, the thought “I believe all fat people are lazy and greedy,” must be replaced with “God made all people in His “image and likeness,” and they are neither fat or skinny. They are perfect children of God.” To make this work, you must have an understanding of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God. That comes with constant study, practice and spiritual development. Each person has lots of human baggage that he must expunge from thought. We are all victims of our experiences–good, bad and apathetic. An evil action follows and evil thought. This thought may be conscious or unconscious . . . but it must be removed.
The second most important thing a person must do is to guard against environment–stop allowing unhealthy thoughts to enter your consciousness. This comes from doing protective, metaphysical work for yourself on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. I do not want to experience sickness, so I keep sick thoughts from entering my consciousness. How do I do that? I block TV ads discussing various diseases or medicines with their numerous side effects from entering my consciousness by either changing the channel or muting the sound; prevent the discovery of a new disease from touching my thinking by refusing to listen to it; mentally reverse illnesses that friends and relatives discuss with me; remove fear of any disease from my thought by studying citations that eradicate fear. These are just a few of the ways one can change human thinking to higher levels of thought. I believe in the verse that says, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” All power belongs to God, and God being Truth, has the power to destroy all error or evil. Mankind simply must learn how to use it.
The third thing that the human spirit must embrace, is to “practice more and speak less.” The great Exemplar, Jesus proved what he taught. That is the key ingredient missing with today’s ministers, parents, teachers and societal role models. We condemn violence, yet we hide behind the Second Amendment and do nothing about the abundance of guns in our communities; we make movies that glorify violence or parade it in front of the most impressionable minds; we keep moral values from being taught in many of our schools and finally, we believe man’s laws supersede the laws of God by our actions. If we are a nation “under God,” why do we keep Him out of our lives in word and . . . in deed?
Violence is a human trait, but man is a divine entity. As long as we believe otherwise, we will experience the limited thinking and actions of mankind. God made man and the man he created is not violent. God is Love and the man He created expresses that love. I repeat the essence of the message expressed by Mrs. Eddy above: The man of God’s choosing does violence to no one.