FILMS FOR ACTION
FILMS FOR ACTION NEEDS YOUR HELP
We don't run on ads. We run on donations. Please help us by committing $5 a month.

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
Jan 13, 2015
1
If We Want to End This World's Tragic Cycles of Violence, We're Going to Have to Do Something Extremely Radical

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.

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.

Trending Videos
We Need Activism to Have More Compassion In It
Hope is a Verb
Emotional Literacy
Featured Documentaries

Films For Action is a library for people who want to change the world.

Founded in 2006, our mission is to provide citizens with the knowledge and perspectives essential to creating a more beautiful, just, sustainable, and democratic society.

  • To dive in, click the Explore button above. You can filter by subject and category at the same time, and sort by newest, most viewed and top-rated.
  • Help us keep the quality of the site high by rating content 1-5 stars.
  • Add videos to our library! Half of our best content was added by members.
  • Have a question or suggestion? Feel free to get in touch.
  • Want to support us and watch some great films in the process? Our $5/mo Patrons get access to 15 of our favorite documentaries.

 

Why join Films For Action?

Goal: To rapidly transition to a just, ecologically sustainable, holistic way of living as fast as possible.

We believe the first step to achieve this goal should be an information delivery network that can amplify the impacts of all our efforts 1000 fold. 

Although Films For Action is centered around film - its true objective is the transformation of the world. This means moving away from the unsustainable paradigm we have now to a regenerative paradigm, as fast as humanly possible.  

Film is the medium of delivery -- the catalyst, the metabolizing agent to speed up, amplify and multiply the effects of every transition movement on the planet. And of course, "transition" contains it all - social justice, ecological regeneration, true democracy, egalitarian economics, universal empathy, less cultural insanity and more happiness and well-being.

All of these movements need a media ecosystem that supports this transition, rather than the media we have today which marginalizes it, ignores it, sanitizes it, suppresses it, or actively fights it. There is certainly good coverage across many different news outlets, and the quality and depth varies, but in terms of volume, the good stuff is easily lost in the deluge of superficial concerns.

Watch any network TV channel for 24 hours or read the newspaper for a week, and you will see what we mean. The dominant narratives which drive the national debate and become "common knowledge" is more often superficial, focused on symptoms rather than root causes, and reinforces the conventional "two sides" within the status quo. The lies and spin promoted by figures in power become well known, while voices that challenge and expand the range of debate rarely get heard. But most importantly, the level of repetition and volume of coverage is what counts. What gets covered day after day, and what gets covered once and is forgotten, or not covered at all? That's why we need a media movement that's dedicated to elevating the voices that aren't getting heard. We need media alternatives that make social change its primary focus. That's why Films For Action exists.

Ultimately, we're just one star in this growing constellation of new media, but we aim to do our part by cultivating the best video library dedicated to transition online, and we hope you'll join us