There is No “Solution” to Violence

31 May
2013

by Jan Hutchins, a former Mayor of Los Gatos, CA. Recently named a Black Journalism Pioneer for his 20+ years as a television news and sports anchor in the Bay Area. Jan Hutchins is a motivational speaker, a coach for celebrities, now CEO of SocialAgenda Media whose mission is to identify and evangelize the ideas, principles and technologies that positively impact individuals, markets and communities.

Todd May, in an op-ed piece for the NY Times online, asked, “Is American Nonviolence Possible?” and then explored solutions to America’s violence problem. I say:

  1. The answer to the question he asks is no
  2. The problem is not America’s
  3. We are better served to see answer rather than seek solution

Prompted by the Boston bombings, May offers readers notable examples of recent public violence that prompted his dispirited question. I avoid using a list of similar events here, his or mine, because I judge it creates fear, the urge to control and keeps us looking out rather than in.

May’s analysis offers theories for why the events proliferate and then points to our aloneness as a reason. “Others are not our partners, nor even our colleagues.  They are our competitors or our enemies.  They are hardly to be recognized, much less embraced.  They are to be vanquished.”

Europeans, less violent by most measures have an obsession with what we call soccer, a game based on cooperation and acceptance of a difficult limitation (no hands) as a price for being in the game/community.

American football, on the other hand, creates collisions and encourages aggression. That football dominates American television (and not just sports) is no accident. It doesn’t matter which came first the beer or the concussion, it’s a match made in media heaven and resonates with a gladiator culture (celebrated on the covers of ESPN the Magazine, Forbes, Fortune, GQ, Vanity Fair) that increasingly drugs itself to ease the pain at its core. Note: Death from prescribed pain meds is now the leading cause of accidental death in America.

Forty-one years ago, as a naïve, optimistic rookie sportscaster on Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania TV, I was told by my first news director that I should not expect to make much difference in the lives of the audience (At the time, I felt able to, and responsible for, saving the world) because, he said, the average person watching our broadcasts had a third grade education, worked a job he hated, had already had two or more beers and was living in quiet desperation.

Today, chastened by experience, I limit expectation of others and no longer underestimate the challenge of being emotionally intelligent. So it is simple math, comparing the number of solutions I’ve found looking outside to the results from making changes inside, which gets me to the point I’m writing to offer. It’s all an inside game. Gandhi was right, I must be the change I want to see in the world. Or, as mystic Ramana Maharshi puts it, “Wanting to reform the world without discovering one’s true self is like trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.” And we can’t leave out the Jungian perspective, “Engage in a relationship with the blind and sickly parts of yourself, perfect them, and you will awaken your hidden divinity.”

In other words, non-violence will occur in our world in direct proportion to the amount of non-violence we experience inside ourselves. Depending on laws, strategies, alliances, campaigns, allies, politics, etc. are rational and real choices but ultimately ineffective, if I, you, we, and they cannot be at peace inside. We must heal ourselves before we try to heal the world, or we’ll just spread the violence we carry.

We are brain-based, trained to try to control outcomes. There is another way, which is embracing events, yes, even the tragic and violent ones, as having been sent into our lives for a greater purpose. To paraphrase the great poet Rumi, “The Great Mind glimpses a lovely hunt going on, where god is hunter and everything else the hunted, That mind sees and tries to quit hunting and completely be prey…. The way to distinguish the true from the false is, Whichever explication makes you feel fiery and hopeful, humble and active, that’s the true one, If it makes you feel lazy, it’s not right.”

The challenge/opportunity of improving my behavior, my peacefulness, my compassion feels fiery and hopeful. Depending on getting others to change feels lazy, not right and damn near impossible.

Doing the inner work is a real hero’s journey and requires what my friend, Ray Arata calls the ARATAcode; Awareness, Responsibility, Accountability, Tenacity and Acceptance. Awareness of the early influences that are so ingrained we must become Super Aware to become able to see them, willingness to be Responsible for my own feelings and behaviors and the life they create, courageous enough to be Accountable for the consequences of my behavior (intended or not) and able to do what I say I’ll do, Tenacity to keep going on the arduous path however many times I fail or doubt I can go on, and perhaps hardest of all, to be Acceptance and forgiveness for myself, others and all that is. No wonder we would rather try “solutions”!

Crowdfundign campaign marketing for non-violence and peaceRay wrote a book, “Wake Up, Man Up, Step Up” about how to do one’s inner work and has dedicated himself to by 2015 getting a million men the book and other practical guidance, tools and inspiration for emotional maturity and accountability so they become able to prevent and resolve conflict in their families, workplaces and communities. Starting May 1st he’s crowdfunding the money to do it and collecting stories of people from around the world to include in a second edition of his book by using a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

If my argument is persuasive and you agree inner work is what will produce outer changes in our world you can support his already successful crowdfunding campaign “Crowd-Authoring ARATACode” and any similar campaigns from other peacemakers.

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