By James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, January 13, 2015
We’d all be happier people if we didn’t watch the news on TV. Most people I know are depressed by events around them, some happening close by, some far away. But if you think about it, the world sucks for very few essential reasons, most of which deal the threat of harm to our bodies. We fear war, terrorism, crime, violence, natural disasters and disease. And those break down into two causes, threats from people and threats from nature. And if we solved the problem of violent people, I think most of our reasons for being depressed about our life on Earth would disappear. We can see the world as sane even if it has cancer and tornadoes, but all the human generated violence makes us think we live in an insane reality. In other words, injustice comes from other people, and not nature.
Avoiding depression when watching the local news is very hard. The stories of murder, rape, home invasions, shootings, gang crime, brawls, berserk shooters, road rage, muggings, robberies, holdups, makes us anxious to exist. Listening to international news about all the variations in wars and terrorism makes us think humans are incapable of reason and sanity.
If all violence stopped, can you imagine what a psychological uplift it would give humanity. We’d be free to work on all the other problems we face. Yet, our solution to violence is more violence. That’s why seeing a film like Selma is so inspirational. That’s why having a holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr. is so important.
As Eldridge Cleaver said, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” I think that’s very insightful, but all too often many people become part of the problem by pushing their solution, which all too often if fight violence with violence. Cleaver fell into that trap. This is different from self-defense, but most people can’t see the dividing line. We need some way to neutralize violent people without going to war or arming ourselves like a special forces soldier. For the last couple centuries this has been the police. If you look around the world and study places without police, you’ll find no civilization. If you find places where the police are corrupt, you see civilization crumbling.
Yet, the police can’t prevent all problems of violence. A strong police force can deter, but we need more teachers, psychologists and social workers to identify and help troubled people. We need more parents and mentors to observe and guide young people. We need more leaders, artists and visionaries to inspire nonviolence.
The trouble is too many young men see violence as the solution, whether they are ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, urban gangs, organized criminals, drug cartels, Hamas, FARC, Taliban, or lone wolf madmen, and we need to study why they join these groups, to solve the problem. Just killing them only seems to inspire more of them to come into existence.
In some ways, we can say the world sucks because there’s too much testosterone. And if you combine testosterone with guns, you get all the groups I mention above. Just killing crazed gunmen isn’t enough. We need to understand why people become crazed gunmen.