How many times have you heard well-meaning people say something like, “violence never solves anything”.
The idea that violence never solves anything has been has been around for a while in world of ever growing political correctness. As a society, it’s a laudable goal to try and eradicate violence so that nobody has to be unnecessarily hurt and it is something that we should all work towards. We’ll never achieve it of course as violence is part of the human condition and we are all capable of it given the right circumstances! It’s only social training and conditioning that makes it unpalatable to us today. With different conditioning, you can end up with the excesses of the Roman Games, where they’d take their children to watch a day’s sport! The social conditioning (political correctness) goes so far in some cases, that in some schools, they don’t have sports as somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. It’s deemed as detrimental to the self esteem of the less physically inclined who might lose all the time.
In adult law (in the UK – you’ll have to check in your own country), you are actually legally allowed a to strike first if you honestly and sincerely believe that you are in imminent danger of being assaulted, (though you might have to justify why you believed that). However, at school, the children are always taught not hit back as apparently it makes things worse and that they should go tell a teacher. The difficulty is, that if you tell children that they can strike first if they are in danger, then every fight/altercation amongst children will result in every kid who starts a fight claiming self defence and that they were in imminent danger. As the kids get a little older, if a child does report bullying they often end up getting even more bullying for being a tell-tale! This secondary bullying may be a bit more subtle, such as being excluded and taunted rather than an actual physical assault, but it is still very isolating and frightening.
As a child I was always told by my parents to walk away if somebody wanted a fight, so I did. This led to me being picked on all the more as I was an easy target who’d hardly ever do anything about it; including not telling the teacher for fear of even more reprisals. However, the first time that I actually hit a school bully back after about 2.5 years of bullying, it stopped the bullying dead in it’s tracks! Ironically, we actually became quite good friends after that. But violence certainly solved that problem for me!
So schools create an environment where many kids grow up with no idea about self defence and with many children not having any will to fight back at all! The taboo against violence, even for genuine self defence, feeds into the idea that violence never solves anything. This is further exacerbated I believe by using the term “bullying”. In one adult strikes another adult, it’s called assault. If a child strikes another child, it too should be called assault. The term “bullying” diminishes the seriousness of something that would not normally be tolerated amongst adults.
Even those who might claim to be truly non-violent can only be so because of mass social conditioning (which is good) and because we have the police to enforce the laws of the land. The police have to deal with the aggressive members of our society, which sometimes results in violence. They deal with the violence so that we don’t have to. But violence is still sometimes necessary.
Violence on a global scale in the late 1930’s and 1940’s crushed the fascist dictatorships that threatened the rest of the world. In the following decades, massive international violence contained communism from taking over.
The freedom that most of us enjoy today has been won by violence on an inconceivably massive global scale and it maintained by the threat of massive violence should either side push the other too far. So when people who live in a primarily safe and secure environment say that “violence never solves anything”; they can only say that because of the millions of people who were violently killed and injured to secure that safe, secure environment and many thousands of police officers who put themselves in the way of violence to maintain that environment.
As Marc MacYoung pointed out at a seminar once, a very large part of our diet is based on violence, just look how many animals are slaughtered to put meat on our tables. Look at the conditions caged hens are reared in and how they are force fed. Sorry, but this is systematic, institutional violence towards animals on an unimaginably massive scale so as to feed the population. If people had to kill there own food, there would be a lot more vegetarians about.
Note: If you have never trained with Marc MacYoung and you get the chance, DO IT!
Most people that say, “violence never solves anything”, are genuine and peace loving people. But they are naive. Once when I was handing out leaflets for my Karate classes, a young man walking by thought he was being clever as he told me with a big smile on face that “violence never solves anything”. But ironically, being good at any martial art, reduces the likelihood of violence in the following ways:-
- It improves your confidence. Aggressors will often pick up on this air of confidence and wonder why? What do you know (that they don’t) that’s giving you this confidence?
- To talk your way out of a situation is much easier when you KNOW that you can fight your way out!
- Many martial artists today are taught strategies to de-escalate a situation and/or dissuade a would-be attacker.
So to avoid violence, it’s best to be good it at! To quote the Roman General and author, Publius Flavius Vegetius, “if you want peace, prepare for war”!
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Bonus: Historical look at Bassai Dai, one of Karate’s most pivotal katas