If We Want to End This World's Tragic Cycles of Violence, We're Going to Have to Do Something Extremely Radical
If We Want to End This World's Tragic Cycles of Violence, We're Going to Have to Do Something Extremely Radical
By Tim Hjersted / filmsforaction.org

When every cultural force beckons us to hate, to harden our hearts and vilify the other, we must have the courage to look, deeply, with an intention to understand.

To ignore the rage of the dispossessed, to dismiss it without understanding its roots, will not bring us any closer to ending this world's mad and endless cycles of violence. If we ever want to end this, we've got to seek out that place in our hearts where we can find compassion for both the killer and the killed. This may sound extreme, and in this world, I know it does. But for me, it is possible when I realize that it could have been me - in either situation. If I had been born into their situation, lived the life they did, been conditioned by the same environmental circumstances they had growing up, and been exposed to the same suffering, it very well could have been me who fired the gun. The same holds true for some soldier sitting at the Pentagon who flies the drones which kill little specs of grey and black pixels on a screen. If I had been born into a military family, with patriotic friends, surrounded and immersed in a culture where I believe my self-worth and goodness is upheld by pushing that red button, I could have become that kind of killer as well.

Fortunately, I was not born into a family, economic situation or cultural environment that would lead me to pick up a gun or join the military. While I was born into a wider culture which from all directions compels me to hate and justify certain forms of violence, my family and friendship circles (my immediate cultural environment) allowed me to escape the pressures of the dominant culture. I see this fortune as random luck. It was by chance that I was born into my family and not some other family. It is by random chance that I am me and not someone else. It is by random chance and good fortune that I was exposed to alternative values and knowledge which led me to spend my days reading books like Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh rather than some dogmatic book or newspaper that defends the violence of Western imperialism or religious extremism. I see this mental freedom as a form of mental and spiritual privilege which tragically so many in the world do not enjoy. It makes it easy to love, easy not to kill or want to be violent. But that is my conditioning.

I know that the same human potential that allows me to be compassionate and non-violent is the same human potential that leads others to commit horrible acts of violence. That is because we are all born with the same spectrum of human potential. We all start out as seeds that can ultimately grow healthy or toxic fruit, depending on how those seeds are nourished or poisoned. No child is born wanting to bomb people from afar or shoot them down with bullets. No child is born racist or sexist or hateful. All of this suffering is inherited from the suffering of those that affect our lives.

It is this understanding that allows me to have compassion for every victim of this world's brutal cycles of violence and conflict. Because it could have been me in their shoes. It could have been me who drew their last breath last week on the floor of a newsroom. It could have been me who died with so much pain and suffering in their heart, who lived a life that is unimaginable and incomparable to ours.

When I look into their eyes, I see myself. and it makes my heart ache beyond description. This pain is only a shadow of what others feel, but it is enough to make me not want to give up loving and striving for a world where this madness has come to an end.

4.0 ·
1
What's Next
Trending Today
Who Are You? Watching This Breathtaking Video Could Be the Moment You Change Your Life
2 min · 28,911 views today · "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can...
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 14,478 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently
Maria Popova · 14,094 views today · “Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticizing the views of an opponent?”
10 Shocking Facts About Society That We Absurdly Accept As Normal
Joe Martino · 12,847 views today · When you take a moment and look around at the world, things can appear pretty messed up. Take 5 or 10 minutes and watch the 6 o’clock news. Chances are, the entire time, all...
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett · 9,110 views today · How to be there for the people who need you most
Welcome to Marinaleda: The Spanish Anti-Capitalist Town With Equal Wage Full Employment and $19 Housing
Jade Small · 7,980 views today · With virtually no police, crime or unemployment, meet the Spanish town described as a democratic, socialist utopia. Unemployment is non-existent in Marinaleda, an Andalusian...
Caitlin Moran's Posthumous Advice for Her Daughter
Caitlin Moran · 7,501 views today · My daughter is about to turn 13 and I’ve been smoking a lot recently, and so – in the wee small hours, when my lungs feel like there’s a small mouse inside them, scratching to...
The International Criminal Court May Start Prosecuting People Who Commit Crimes Against the Environment
Tara Smith · 5,970 views today · The International Criminal Court is not known for prosecuting people responsible for huge oil slicks, chopping down protected rainforests or contaminating pristine land. But...
Rap News Special Edition: Hillary Clinton Vs Donald Trump
7 min · 5,510 views today · Hello world. RAP NEWS is back for a special episode on the 2016 USA Election mayhem, feat. Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump + a touch of Jill Stein & Gary Johnson. This one's...
Humanity's Greatest Challenges Aren't Technical, They're Human
8 min · 5,309 views today · Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is incomplete as we commonly know it. Later in his life, Maslow wrote about a stage beyond self-actualization. Nichol Brandford explains how to...
Forest Man
16 min · 5,119 views today · Since the 1970's Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC...
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 4,124 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
10 Photos That Show the Magnificent Light Shining on Standing Rock
Josue Rivas · 3,376 views today · Despite all the news of pipeline regulation, court appeals, and activist arrests, Native photographer Josue Rivas reminds us that it is actually a peaceful place.
The Journey From Syria (2016)
71 min · 2,894 views today · Reporter Matthew Cassel spent a year documenting the journey of Syrian jeweler Aboud Shalhoub as he travels from Turkey to Greece, and through Eastern Europe to the Netherlands...
American Cartel: How America's Two Major Parties Helped Destroy Democracy
Frank Castro · 2,577 views today · Cartel: An association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition.
Alan Watts: What If Money Was No Object?
3 min · 2,083 views today · How do you like to spend your life? What do you desire? What if money didn't matter? What if money was no object? What would you like to do if money were no object? Spoken...
The Culture of Maximum Harm
Daniel Quinn · 1,816 views today · People have lived many different ways on this planet, but about ten thousand years ago there appeared one people who believed everyone in the world should live a single...
A Woman Who Makes This Statement Today Needs Revolutionary Courage
Sabine Lichtenfels · 1,628 views today · I want to live in a community with men and women, with children, animals and plants so that I am not continually forced to hide my actual being from the others. Perception and...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,406 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
“You Can Have Your Weak Nominee If You Wish” – the Sanders Endorsement Backfires on Hillary Clinton, Empowers Sanders in One Masterstroke
Saib Bilaval · 1,274 views today · Ultimately, what the Sanders endorsement has proved is what the candidate was arguing from the beginning – that it was not Sanders and his campaign that was holding Hillary...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
If We Want to End This World's Tragic Cycles of Violence, We're Going to Have to Do Something Extremely Radical