Hope you have your hip waders on. Today’s post gets a little deep.
A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook that resonated with me. It was on a website dedicated to the support of the 2nd Amendment. What was surprising was that the article wasn’t really trying to convince anyone to support the 2nd. It was the author’s thoughts on the nature of evil, and how you don’t recognize the truly evil person until it’s too late.
The name of the article is “I’ve Talked With a Spree Killer…”, and if you’re so inclined you can read it here, though I learned long ago that such articles seldom if ever convince anyone of anything. Just as my little missive here is unlikely to convince anyone to my view of things.
But the article did start me to thinking about the nature of violence. Just say the word to yourself. Violence. There is an almost immediate connotation of wrongness and disapproval, isn’t there? Even when I think about it, I have to almost consciously step beyond the emotional stigma that society has put on the word.
Yet I have dedicated a fair piece of my life to the study of martial arts. And without getting all Miyagi on everyone, you can’t get away from the fact that the study of martial arts is the study of violence. It’s an acceptance of the idea that life is not all smiles and sunshine, and that people do not all behave as society says they should. It’s the acknowledgement that some people will attempt to take advantage of others, sometimes to the point of attacking them. Sometimes killing them.
And it is training yourself to use similar violence to prevent it from happening around you.
I’m not going to try debate why violence occurs. Environment, upbringing, mental illness, demonic possession, or whatever… for the purposes of this post, it doesn’t matter. The fact that it does happen is enough for me to make the point I want to make.
That can’t be denied. I don’t care which side of the gun control/gun rights debate you fall on. As far as I’m concerned, for this particular post, you can take guns out of the equation completely. Whether the instrument is guns, knives, fists, or teeth, violent attacks on innocents happen every day. Period. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t need a military or a police force.
But as an ordinary citizen, what can you do about it? Well the way I see things, there are three basic approaches to an attack.
You can call the authorities. Or if you are actually the victim of said violence, then you can hope someone else calls the authorities. After all, that’s why we have them, right? To take care of perpetrators of violence against the innocent citizen.
Of course, unless the crime happens in front of the police, then the chances of them actually stopping the attack are pretty much slim to none. But maybe they’ll catch whoever did it and lock them up so they won’t get a chance to do it again. Right?
Of course, you can take the “turn the other cheek” approach. But to be perfectly honest, I’m just not that righteous a human being (if that’s your definition of being righteous). If someone strikes the cheek of someone I care for, whether it’s me, a loved one, a friend, or even an innocent I see on the street, I’m more likely to take the third approach.
As far as I’m concerned, the old adage of “violence begets violence” is true. Just off the top of my head, I’ve known two people who were victims of attempted kidnappings, several who were victims of muggings or attempted muggings, and two who were raped. I’m a strong believer in stopping the violence immediately, minimizing the damage done to the victim as quickly as possible. And I accept that doing so means that I have to embrace a certain amount of violence myself.
The old Japanese idea of bushido embraced several aspects of life – frugality, loyalty, honor, the study of martial arts, and yes… violence. But more importantly, it embraced the balance of these traits. Violence alone? Yeah, that’s a pretty bad thing. It can easily throw off a person’s emotional balance. It’s like the old adage that says if all you have is a hammer, then everything begins to look like a nail.
Used improperly, that hammer can destroy all too easily. But in the hands of a trained craftsman, it can be used to build you up. You can learn to accept it as part of your nature – that it doesn’t have to be feared, only controlled. And like the hammer, violence then becomes one of many tools you can use in building the life you want.
Like it or not, violence is part of life. I’ve not known anyone who truly doesn’t have any violence in them. Only those who choose to suppress it. For better or worse, I’m not one of those people. I’ve accepted the violence within. I embrace it. And I balance it with compassion and love for my fellow human beings.
I could give examples of people I’ve known who have used their martial arts training in defense of themselves or others. But that’s not really the point here. What I want you to take from this is that you have to find your own balance in life. And just because someone else tells you something is so, is no reason to accept that it is. There are always opposing views on any given subject. Examine those views, make your own determination.
And in all things, find your own balance.
That’s it. Enough of the deep musings. We all have things to do. So stay safe, and I’ll see you next week.