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The Top 10 Ways to Reduce Violence
I live near the tragic “school shootings” of the recent past, and have seen how the pain, anger, grief and turmoil has affected our community. He realized that a general abhorrence of violence is not enough. While I’m sure others will have different, and perhaps wiser, suggestions on how to reduce violence, here are my top 10 ways to reduce violence. If you can improve them, I appreciate your comments, but I suspect it might be more important and helpful if you wrote 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 shut down when I hear parents say to kids, “You shouldn’t be angry.” Tell them, “Your feelings are fine, you may be angry, but you may not 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 must increase the possibilities of violent behavior. I can’t prove that, it just seems likely.
3. See the connection between all levels of violence. Insults and mockery, humiliation and shame are forms of violence. When we treat people badly, we shouldn’t be surprised when they look for a way to “get rid of it.”
4. Take all violence seriously. Playground bullies and sibling rivalries don’t have to be accepted as part of life, at least not when kids are getting hurt. Kids fighting over “my toy” is one thing; hitting or pulling hair or knocking each other down is another thing. We don’t have to accept it as normal behavior.
5. Take people with problems and anger seriously. We’ve talked about needing earlier intervention with troubled kids, and I agree. But people of all ages get stuck in situations they can’t handle, with emotions they can’t express. Domestic violence, co-worker violence and child violence should always be treated as a serious matter. Hitting and 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 guns 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 tough. 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, fights, and mayhem can also influence behavior. To be frank, I’m especially 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 are a sacred icon in American culture, but sports seem to have been separated from athletics. Instead of every kid participating in gym class and competing in intramural sports, we have a superstar culture of superheroes who are practically above the law. Hockey, basketball, football and other sports tolerate behavior that would result in arrest for assault outside the sports venue. 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 and kill,” “slaughter them,” and “blow the brains out.” Our legal system is based on the idea that the lawyer does the fighting. While hiring a representative to fight with words instead of clubs was a big 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 violence, or “really show it.” I hear jokes that use the phrase, “Just shoot the bastards!” I know if “looks could kill” or cutting statements really drew blood, I’d be in deep trouble. Violence is not just someone else’s problem. I must work for peace, love and the improvement of conflict resolution in my own life. how about you
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