While contemplating my first Mother’s Day without my Mother, in the midst of sadness I remembered that the original idea for a “Mother’s Day” grew out of a desire for peace and disarmament. Women, Mothers, have a deep connection with humankind’s empathic nurturant nature. They innately understand that peace is desirable, at all times and on all levels. It is primarily men who promote the idea of violence as normal. This is not to say that women cannot be coerced and co-opted into accepting male ego based violence and it’s most cherished son, war, as acceptable means of resolving crisis.
It is precisely this concept of viewing violence as normal which leads us, to my mind, to any number of the societal ills which have befallen us in both the distant and recent past. This concept is the primary causal impetus behind a perpetual and pervasive worldwide cycle of violence, a quagmire from which we seem unable or unwilling to extricate ourselves. It is most unfortunate that this idea has a so-called “natural” element to it’s composition, which fuels the notion that it is inherent to our nature and unchangeable. The argument that violence is elemental to our humanity bolsters those who support violence as normal, who see war and violence as intuitive methods of resolving conflict, and therefore correct.
There is an element of truth to their statements which makes it all the more difficult to reveal violence as the mutable, relative concept it truly is. The violence as ingrained biological truth position stems from the most basic fight or flight reflexes which all animals display to varying degrees. Men seem selectively capable of denying their animal realities but this part of their autonomic response system is ostensibly universally accepted. Although man’s alleged evolution from caveman to Homo Sapiens is glorified by our constant efforts to deny our prurient animal sexuality we fully accept the fact that we are programmed, as animals, to respond violently to crisis situations.
I have always felt that these contradictions in how we appreciate our animal natures were simply a function of how closely the “natural” attributes served certain political motivations. It is easy to claim that a homosexual can “override” his biologic programming through mental discipline but it is often the same people who throw up their hands and assert that “we will never overcome our tendency to violence”. I believe it is exceedingly difficult for us to override biologic imperatives, but it is possible, especially when a new understanding of truth creates a more compelling reason to change than the original situation the programming was meant to address. This is evolution at it’s most basic, an imperative to manifest an ability that exceeds our previous abilities.
Addicts are able to overcome destructive, biologically driven, behaviors through mental discipline and a clearer understanding of the consequences of their behavior. They have understood the deep truth that what their bodies have been chemically programmed to do is damaging, and efforts to supersede that programming are worthwhile.
It is time for mankind to admit that our ancient instincts to fight when we feel powerful are damaging to all of us under most circumstances. These intuitive responses can still be valuable when we can consciously affirm the instant instinctual decisions and realize we are without options to violence. Defense against an unrelenting enemy who clearly threatens our lives and from whom there is no escape from violence will always be a regrettable but appropriate response. We should never open ourselves to exploitation. Eastern Martial Arts are clear on this concept. They promote peace through strength. But we HAVE evolved and we CAN temper our instincts for gore with a deeper understanding that our chemical hard-wiring can, should, and must be changed for the good of the world’s societies and people.
As has been posited by Gene Roddenberry in ‘Star Trek’ we can move society past the place where violence is necessary or even viable and move the world toward a level of peace that will allow us to concentrate on using our boundless energies to help each other achieve greater heights. It’s not far fetched. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. It should be the goal of all civilized people, to remove our bondage from continued reliance on violence as a normal and acceptable means to resolve our differences. Only when the idea that it is PEACE and not violence which is the norm for human beings, when that idea permeates to the deepest, most impenetrable, segments of society, will we ever be able to imagine a world of prosperity where all people have a good chance at a meaningful, successful life.