Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 18, 2006
Violence comes in a multitude of guises
Anger, intolerance, impatience, unfair judgments, aggression breed violence
A Shepherd Speaks
By BISHOP FRED HENRY
Violence is an unacceptable evil; a monstrous lie that goes against the truth of our common humanity.
It is the height of stupidity to suggest that in the name of stopping the violence against women, AI should adopt a policy that will lead to further violent destruction of female children in the wombs of their mothers.
Since part of the AI mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of rights, a logical move on the part of AI would be to seek to change contemporary culture so that every child is protected in law and welcomed in life.
Violence is the most clear sign of our personal and societal failures.
We cannot ignore the underlying cultural values that help to create the environment where violence grows: a denial of right and wrong, an abandonment of personal responsibility, an excessive focus on our selfish desires, a diminishing sense of obligation to our children and neighbours, a misplaced priority on acquisitions, and media glorification of violence and sexual irresponsibility. In short, we often fail to value life and cherish human beings above possessions, power and pleasure.
Less obvious and visible is the slow-motion violence of discrimination and poverty, hunger and hopelessness, addiction and self-destructive behaviour. Economic, social and moral forces and issues can tear apart communities and families not as quickly, but just as surely as bullets and knives. Lives sometimes are diminished and threatened not only in our immediate neighbourhood, but also by decisions made in parliaments, boardrooms and courtrooms. An ethic of respect for life should be the central measure of all our institutions.
Gandhi would remind us: "If one does not practise non-violence in one's personal relations with others and hopes to use it in bigger affairs, one is vastly mistaken. . . . In non-violence, the masses have a weapon which enables a child, a woman, or even an . . . old (person), to resist the mightiest government successfully. If your spirit is strong, mere lack of physical strength ceases to be a handicap. Non-violence is the summit of bravery."
Not all violence is deadly. It begins with anger, intolerance, impatience, unfair judgments and aggression. It is often reflected in our language, our entertainment, our driving, our competitive behaviour and the way we treat our environment. These acts and attitudes are not the same as abusive behaviour or physical attacks, but they create a climate where violence prospers and peace suffers.
"Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal" are more than mere suggestions; they are imperatives for the common good. Violence is an unacceptable evil; a monstrous lie that goes against the truth of our common humanity.
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