26 Nov 2008 - Story by Sifu Lawrence Hochobeb
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"Violence is anything that denies human integrity and leads to hopelessness and helplessness."
(Marin Luther King Jr.)
Violence in our society is increasing. Why is violence increasing and what is the reason of its sudden "popularity"? What is wrong with our society today?
The breakdown of families and communities is a widespread fact of life and violence is one of its wages. The collapse of families, economic injustices, unemployment, inadequate moral formation and guidance, personal irresponsibility, racism and sexism, inability to deal with anger and conflict, homophobia, low self-esteem, psychological problems and substance abuse - these and other factors lie behind the incidence of violent crime today.
Fear, anxiety and alienation are expressed through readily-available weapons of destruction. Violence breeds more violence. Incidents of violence stir up anger and a craving for vengeance.
Fear festers an attitude of "we're not going to take it anymore". Increasingly, our national mood has been described as one of "getting mad and getting even." Harsher sentences have much popular appeal, despite their expense and failure to deter further crime.
Violence is a serious problem in our society. Violence can take many forms: bullying, gender and racial harassment, sexual assault/rape, gang violence, gun use and 'hate' crimes. Some blame the mass media, particularly music, TV, sports and videogames for glorifying violence and desensitizing its viewers; while for others it's our structural culture of violence, regional wars and instability.
Violence is disturbing because it can cause a lot of psychological damage to a person's sense of self.
Especially youth who exhibit violent behaviour early will likely continue to act in destructive ways over the course of their adult life.
We believe that the dynamics in society promote conflict, but also that the origins of violence in human development can be traced back to a child's early interactions with adults. Children and youth who have been repeatedly put down, neglected or abused will internalise negative thoughts about themselves; those who experience domestic violence often accept violent behaviour as the norm.
For protection, the child puts up barriers, hurts him/herself or hurts others. Furthermore, gender socialisation based on masculine/feminine ideas encourages aggressive and passive behaviours. Boys learn to hide their emotions and take control of situations. Girls are socialised to obsess over their appearance and act in well-mannered ways. It is no wonder that majority of all acts of violence are committed by boys and men.
In order to transform violence into better conflict resolution, youth must have input on issues that concern them. As we all learn the origins and consequences of violence, we become better equipped to resist and prevent it in our own lives. Life has indeed become more violent and more dangerous for children. Even families living in so-called "safe" neighbourhoods are concerned. They may feel safe today, but there is always a reminder that violence can intrude at any moment.
A child's exposure to violence is pervasive. Children see violence in their schools, their neighbourhoods and in their homes. Our daily news is rife with acts of violence and heightens a child's perception of potential violence.
As concerned parents and citizens we must do what we can to reduce the level of violence in our society through the wise use of judgment and public policy. We need to set limits both in our homes and in the community. Obviously something must be done. Parents and general citizens must take responsible actions to prevent the increasing violence in our society.
Violent homes, violence on television and in the movies, violence in schools all contribute to the increasingly violent society. We have a responsibility to make a difference and apply the appropriate principles in order to help stem the tide of violence in our society.
Here are some specific suggestions for dealing with violence:
- Learn about the impact of violence in our society and share this with others. Help them understand how important this issue is to them and their community.
- Create a safe environment. Families live in the midst of violence. We must make our homes safe for our families. A child should feel that his or her world is safe. Providing care and protection are obvious first steps but parents must also establish limits, provide emotional security and teach values and virtue in the home.
- Parents should limit the amount of media exposure in their homes. The average young person sees entirely too much violence on TV and at the movies. Set limits to what a child watches and evaluate both the quantity and quality of their media input. Focus on what is pure, beautiful, true, right, honourable, excellent and praiseworthy.
- Watch TV with children. Obviously we should limit the amount of TV our children watch. But when they watch television, we should try to watch it with them. We can encourage discussion with children during the programs.
- Children at an early age instinctively trust their parents. As the children grow, parents should work to develop their childs trust in God. Instill moral values.
- Discuss the reasons for pain and suffering in the world.
- Teach vigilance without hysteria. By talking about the dangers in society, some parents have instilled fear in their children. We need to balance our discussions with them and not make them panic-stricken.
There are crimes that defy words to adequately describe their horror and savagery. They are acts that convey all the signs and fingerprints of evil in its most awful forms. There is nothing that so thoroughly pollutes our legacy of human beings and paints our society as a fraud and failure than violence.
Monsters do exist within our society, monsters of the most frightful and deadly kind. They live within the darkest corners of the human heart.
Violence is the scourge of our society, but we can make a difference. We must educate ourselves about its influence and impact on our lives and take action.
Help stem the tide of violence in our society!
- Sifu Lawrence Hochobeb is the Founder and Chief Instructor of Namibia Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy. He can be contacted at: 0812782121.