Violence in Perspective


Charles Mercieca, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

Over the past 6,000 years of recorded history, violence seems to have been the distinguished characteristic of our earthly community. Violence of one kind or another always promotes animosity, hatred, destruction of the environment and total disregard for the sacredness of human rights. Every kind of violence stems from abuse of individual or collective power. It tends mostly to derive from those in authority who are held accountable for all the struggles and conflicts as well as disasters and wars.

Source and Nature

The source of violence varies from one place to another. However, whatever the sources may be there is always a conspicuous element of anger which often leads to lack of self control. We should keep in mind that violence breeds violence and more violence breeds more violence. This means that one of the greatest mistakes we can possibly make is to deal with violence by retaliation. This explains why the Master Teacher of Nazareth taught us peace by “turning the other cheek when slapped” instead of resorting to violence.

One thing we need to keep in mind and to learn from history is this. When we use violence for any purposes, everyone ends up being a loser including us. To turn an insult into injury, the governments of our respective nations have institutionalized violence and made it legal through the creation and use of the military for this end. We need here to distinguish between the theoretical and practical aspect of the institution of the military. In theory, the military exists for the purpose of “national defense and security.”

In practice, the military has been abused by various governments to achieve what they want through brutality for which no one is held accountable. This abuse of power is revealed each time the military invades a country. In fact, the military always served to suppress the people and to destroy their cities while exploiting their nation’s natural recourses. It never served to establish beneficial dialogues and to bring about a permanent peace. This is verified by the fact that the military massacres thousands of innocent people with no remorse.

If we were to analyze carefully the initial source that led to the complete collapse of a world power in history, we always discover that its war policies destroyed eventually its very own economy. At this stage of time, the United States is viewed as the sole world power, which explains, in part, why this nation tends to try to solve all of the world’s problems through constant and continuous military intervention, that is, through violence. It explains why so many people in this nation are poor and helpless and several millions do not have any financial resources to pay for their medical problems.

Exposing Military Danger

When it comes to the military, there are no higher laws! The Divine Positive Law, consisting of the Ten Commandments, the Natural Law, based on the orderly process of nature, and the Ecclesiastical Law, which often serves as a guideline for people to observe properly these sacred laws become all meaningless. There has never been in history an element that has been abused and so deceitful as the institution of the military. In our communities, when we abuse our neighbor in any way, we become fully responsible for our actions.

We are generally taken to court and receive an adequate punishment. At the same time, we are viewed as “dangerous” to those living in our same community, at times for the rest of our lives. Not only it is all right for the military to destroy the infrastructure of cities and kill millions of innocent people, including women, children, the elderly and the sick, but those that carry out such orders are officially viewed as heroes or patriots! This mind-set is now so deep that it would take a miracle direct from heaven to have it changed.

However, in the civil communities there is at least one crime that could be performed at leisure without any fear of prosecution and punishment. This crime consists in the ruthless murder of children at their early stages of life. When we have governments that condone these crimes and try even to finance them to make sure such a heinous trend would continue the notion of violence has become an intrinsic part of human life. All of this reveals the characteristics of a culture of war in which we were all born and raised.

Violence could be brought up to a complete halt if we were to understand clearly its sources and go after them to provide adequate remedies. If we are dying of a malignant tumor, the best way to deal with it is to go to its source. We need to know how it came to exist in the first place. After that we will be in a good position to take drastic steps to remedy the situation in a way that such a malignancy will never pop up again. Violence will escalate when we use violence, like we have observed in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The purpose of violence is very clear. It is used to hurt others brutally and ruthlessly. It makes no difference as to whether those hurt were guilty or innocent of an assumed crime. In addition to what has been stated, violence is also used as an “effective” means to silence people. Needless to say, when it comes to the solution of problems we encounter, we can always solve them through non-violence if we were to understand vital and basic human needs. This would eventually enable us to provide remedies that are effective and peaceful and that are inexpensive and lasting.

Obama No Exception

The key of success in human relations problems lies in the ability of all sides involved to listen not only to our own feelings but also to what others have to say. President Barack Obama won the noble peace prize because he convinced Americans and nations around the world that he intended to use healthy dialogues and a strong diplomacy to solve problems instead of struggles and wars. This gave the whole world a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, shortly after he received the noble peace prize, he proceeded to escalate the war in Afghanistan.

In other words, Obama continues with the traditional trend of the last 6,000 years of civilization of trying hopelessly to solve international problems through the use of deadly weapons, struggles and wars. He continues to use the military, the institution that is in charge of carrying out ruthless brutalities without being accountable to no one. World peace would be achieved faster if we were to discuss together our feelings, observations and needs. This will enable us, in good faith, to develop policies that are on a mutually beneficial basis.

There are quite a few things that all people from every walk of life and profession as well as from every religious creed and nationality have in common. One of this lies in their deep desire not to become a victim of violence. For many of us it may be fine if others were to become victims of violence but we surely do not want, by all means, to become ourselves victims of violence. The Master Teacher said it beautifully when He exclaimed: “Do to others what you want others to do to you.”

In English we have the expression: “What goes around comes around.” And when it comes around it usually comes in a way we never expect. In fact, we are often taken by surprise because those that are meant to hurt us tend to use different elements than those we expect. We all need to get together to discuss seriously how we can make the military cease to be an agency of violence and, instead, become an agency of peace characterized by love, concern and respect for the vital human interests of all people without exception.


Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.


International Association of Educators for World Peace

Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education,

Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament

Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 18 Oct 2010.

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