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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Violence, Disconnection, and Emptiness

Istanbul
We read a lot of press about the dangers of violence in movies, video games, and other mass media that children and young people have access to. We are basically told that one of the reasons that there is so much real violence in the world nowadays is because these same children and young people see too much violence and have come to accept it as normal. Much of this type of opinion was ubiquitous in its expression when such frighteningly wide-spread school violence started coming to the foreground in the mid to late 90’s.

It might be necessary to distinguish between the kind of violence that is stimulated and heightened by religious fervor and conviction, or the kind of violence that has political overtones, as opposed to the kind of violence that almost seems mindless: school murder, drive-by shooting, mugging, rape, etc.

In this latter case, especially if the numbers that so often flash on our TV screens are correct in that they indicate that the incidence of violence among young people is up as compared to previous decades, then I’d like to venture the opinion that there is in actual fact something much more important than watching violent TV movies, or playing violent video games that may be at the root of this.

Not only are our families no longer geographically connected in the way that they used to be, when generations of the same family would live together in one town or city, and interact in meaningful ways, but even that part of our families that continues to live together – perhaps only the parents and the children, or one of the parents and the children – is frequently not very connected for a myriad number of possible reasons. Job-related lack of time is often a big factor, lack of quality time together, is another very important one, as is lack of real communication among the members of this nuclear family, where everyone actually spends time with the other members in such a way that the real self is given a chance to shine clearly.

In our fast-paced world, we are so caught up in our 180-mile-an-hour lives, our multiple activities, our lack of slower time (why do you think so many people are seduced by slower-paced countries for their retirement years?), and our amazingly naïve, even almost cavalier attitude towards not paying attention to spending this quality time together, communicating on levels that we normally don’t even consider, mainly because there just isn’t time, and because we don't stop to consider how very, very important this is.

So what does this have to do with violence? Everything. Lack of connection (see also my April 2007 Newsletter: Losing the Connection: You Still Love Each Other But No Longer Connect) to one another in ways that make us feel alone because we don’t communicate, leads to a frightening sense of emptiness, purposelessness - especially in young people - and that indeed can be the precursor to violence, even if it takes place just to feel something.

What am I suggesting? Simply that we must recognize that the less we are in connection with ourselves, the less we will be in connection with others in our immediate circle, and if these others are members of our family, our spouse, partner, children and grandchildren, then we give those of the next generation little to use to model themselves on; little to focus on for their own inner growth and development, little to learn about the wonderful ways of the world where there does not need to be any violence. For that to happen, however, the inter-connectedness of us all needs to be recognized. You are no different from him, or her, or me. We are all connected (see also an earlier post: Europe and Africa: Quantum Physics and Intertwined Molecules), and if you believe that to be so, then we can not tolerate violence and will not participate in it ourselves.

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