Throughout history human beings have been fighting, maiming and killing each other. If you wish to think about an ethical response to violence then the Viking invasion of Britain over 1000 years ago is as relevant a period in history as any for consideration. For their story is one of pillage and slaughter, destruction and … Continue reading Violence: How to respond to it ethically?
Nine-eleven was an act of cruelty as was the setting up of Guantanamo Bay torture centre. These recent acts of human cruelty are part of a long history of man’s inhumanity to man. The massacres, looting and capturing of slaves by forces led by Attila the Hun in 5th century eastern Europe; the unrestricted bombing of civilians living in cities like Gunernica during the Spanish civil war; the starvation, brutal treatment and extermination of Jews, and other victims of persecution in the Nazi concentration camps.
Human cruelty of course goes on all the time perhaps in less dramatic ways and in a much smaller scale than these. Malicious gossip can destroy a personal reputation; spiteful actions can result in huge distress; nasty comments within close relationships can cause longstanding wounds. Why do people feel so full of contempt, or want revenge to act out their feelings in such cruel ways?
I know who my enemy is: the individual who maliciously damages my property: tramps all over the flower-bed in the garden: scratches the car with a key: trashes the home during a burglary. I feel angered by anyone who threatens to harm my sense of well-being. These are the people I want to complain about and get my own back on. So how on earth does one stop hating such people. How do you love your enemy?
Have you been hopping mad recently? Some people temperamentally seem to be more easily roused to anger than are others. Yet, to some extent we all get irritated at times. We feel cross when others attack what we love like our child or pet animal for instance.
It could be something we love in ourselves, that when attacked, causes us a sense of wounded pride. We may experience `road rage’ in our heart, reasoning defensively in our head about it being the other driver’s entire fault.
We might then use our hands to make rude gestures or write letters making unreasonable demands. Offensive putdowns thrown at us in a condescending tone of voice also can get to us. Then irritation easily spirals when we retaliate in kind and the heated things that are said – which on reflection we often do not even mean – hurt both parties. It is possible to harbour resentment for years especially if we continually avoid someone or allow ourselves to slip into the habit of not conversing with them when we do have an opportunity.
Spiritual healing may be a relevant way forward. However making up may be easier said than done. In addition, not every attempt at reconciliation works. After all, it takes two to tango. We need to eat a little humble pie even if the other person does not. The trouble is as …..