Which is worse: slapping someone on stage or shooting children in a schoolroom?
By Thom Hawkins
They’re both bad, though one creates more suffering. Violence is never acceptable, except, perhaps, to save your life or someone else’s.
We live in an excessively violent culture arising from the brutality of capitalism, racism, sexism, contact sports and forever wars. We accept everyday violence and unkindness to our fellow humans as normal. We are not only inured to it, we applaud it. It no longer surprises us.
Why do we so readily accept and normalize the worst part of ourselves? Nothing will change until we stop tolerating all forms of violence. Can we do that? Of course we can. There are many examples of cultures and communities that have learned to live in peace and kindness. Seek them out and follow their lead.
Violence and killing are a normal part of the natural world. Indeed, the cosmos itself is a very violent place. Yet humans are capable of choosing how much violence they will tolerate. So the question is not how can we eliminate violence, but how much is acceptable? That is a question every community must answer through frequent open discussion in public forums. Without vigilance, we lose our humanity.
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