Monday, August 28, 2006

On Violence

Lyndsay and I meet periodically, probably twice a year and talk for eight to ten hours. Our conversations have been pivotal in my development as a person. Every time I come away with a new insight or fresh view on the world. This time was no exception.

During our many debates and arguments we talked about an ex-colleague of ours, Jim, who had worked in a Psychiatric Hospital. There were many tales to tell from this period in this person's life but there was one he never told - we only knew from another person who had been there...And it explained so much.

Jim was given a 'difficult' group of patients to work with. 'Difficult' had connotations of varying extremes of violence. After a period of time working with this group Jim reviewed his cases with another colleague. He shook his head. He didn't understand why the group had been labelled 'difficult'. He hadn't found them a problem. He hadn't found them 'difficult'. He hadn't found the violence which others had alluded to.

His colleague, smiled at him. 'Jim', she said, 'that's because you offered no violence.'

He 'offered no violence'.

In his demeanor, speech (content, tone or volume) or actions, he offered no violence.

This made complete sense to me. I thought of times on the front door of the youth centre when confrontations and aggression have been soaked up and dissipated to leave a blank canvas to begin relationships and that had been when we 'offered no violence'.

I thought about my interactions with the world and which times were best however difficult the situation, whether in an argument or playing games, and they were when I 'offered no violence'.

If you offer no violence there is...

none to be reacted to,
none to be used to defend against,
none to belittle or hurt, for someone to lash out against,
none to be frustrated by,
none to be mimicked/copied
none to be used as an excuse for inappropriate behaviour
none to be a reinforcement of violent behaviour
none to frighten or shock into 'fight or flight'
none to be learned...

How many of us 'offer no violence'?
Certainly not our countries, with our militaries and weapons.
What about ourselves?

"I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you
friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings My wisdom
flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together
for unity and love. "
Mahatma Gandhi


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