We live in a violent age. People are killed daily for a variety of reasons and frequently, none of it makes much sense. But the reason that so many of us feel okay with this violence is because we normalize it.
We see it in video games parents buy for their kids. We see it on playgrounds with kids fighting each other either for play or out of rage they don’t really understand. We see it with the increased incentive for people to go into the military to “defend our country” when in reality, too often the people killed as a result of the acts of the U.S. military are civilians and not those who are part of the armies we fight. We make it honorable to engage in violence and make it out to be an act of bravery rather than questioning why we go to war, rather than attempting to negotiate. This needs to stop and it should never have started.
Being excessively violent is not normal. Wanting to fight and hurt other people is not behavior that is seen as good. We know this because Americans are often arrested for fighting in public or behaving violently or threatening. We see shootings, stabbings and other forms of violence.
However, this double standard shows up when there is violence that is seen as being bad, but at the same time, we celebrate acts of violence when we are happy that a child has chosen to “defend himself” by hitting another child back and we encourage people within our society to join the military to “honor our country.” I could go on for days about the reasoning behind why someone should never even consider going into the military and fighting, but this is still something so many people aspire to without understanding the repercussions that ensue from living a lifestyle with exposure to death and violence that is unwarranted and frequently petty. And because of a combination between encouraging militaristic behavior and congratulating children for fighting, we normalize violence within our society, creating violence cycles that do not seem to be able to be broken. We raise children who believe that violence is okay and they grow up and raise children who believe the same thing. Even still, we have the audacity to wonder why there are mass shooting by young men in our country.
Violence damages more than the person who has the pain inflicted upon them. It is more than a victim’s broken bone. Inside of that victim there is a feeling of lack of physical and perhaps even emotional security, which can be even more difficult to repair than a broken bone. There is also the damage it does to the assailant. When we behave as violent individuals, we hurt more than the people we have done wrong, we actively hurt ourselves in the process and this is not always something that we can come back from. Stop normalizing violence within our society. Stop allowing children to go to school and “defend” themselves. Stop teaching people that behaving violently is the only way to solve a problem. Not only is that wildly untrue, it destroys so much of who we are as a society as well as who we are as individuals.