The Absolute Last
It seems to be intrinsic to the American Way. Or one could go so far as to posit that it’s part of the human genome. Violence. I’m talking about physical violence. The kind that draws blood, cripples, kills. Fists, sticks, rocks, knives, guns, bombs. Whatever. We’ll use what’s at hand or carry weapons in anticipation.
This is not news hot off the press. Humanity has been cultivating ways to harm each other since the days we all lived in caves. Historians estimate that in the past 3,400 years the planet has been entirely at peace for 265 of them. Eight percent of recorded history. By my lights, a dismal record. Add to war the terror that infests playgrounds, back alleys, living rooms, etc., and the world has never been at peace.
Don’t most people like peace and security? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to stroll through Central Park in the dark without fear? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if the trillions spent worldwide annually on the military were put to use improving life on the planet instead? What is at the base of the problem?
I am not a thoroughgoing pacifist in that I believe we need police and military forces to contain evil. But a foundational reason for much violence is that we jump to that option FIRST . . . or maybe a quick second. Whether it is a family disagreement or conflict between nations, if talking doesn’t work quite quickly (meaning, I get my way), we come out swinging. And people get hurt . . . sometimes very badly . . . often dying. Even with all the good in the world, violence brings in way too much bad.
Civil rights activist and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, stated: “There's no problem on the planet that can't be solved without violence.” That might not be 100% accurate. But I believe it’s in the neighborhood of 97% true. We just need to put first things first. Namely, finding ways to settle conflicts that respect the well-being of all parties. Violence might have to be considered 3% of the time, but it should be the LAST option contemplated. The absolute last.