Dennis Hooker wrote:
Perhaps my perspective on the question is unique and perhaps even wrong but to me violence follows intent. Now catch them in a steel trap and beat their heads in with a club while smiling now that is violence. I believe a volcano and a hurricane are awesome acts of the power of nature but not violent because there is no intent.
I still think there should be a clearer definition of the views of violence. Most of what is being talked about here takes place in the arena of violence, but could be classified as "harmful intent" or "antisocial behavior" rather than just simply as "violence". We live in a violent universe, some times beautifully so. We attach extra emotional concepts to the word "violence" that I don't believe really should be there, much in the same way we talk about the word "aggressive". Both of these words have negative connotations, implying some form of abuse or overuse of force, but I think they have gotten a bum rap. The terms start to contradict each other when we talk about a tornado not being violent because it has no intent. How do we know that it doesn't have intent? Tell the victims of tornados that it has no intent and that it is not violent. I believe that what the tornado doesn't have is a human emotion attached to its inherently violent action. The difference between a rifle aimed by a hunter and a rifle aimed by a soldier is the emotional intent we give to it; how we perceive it does not change the nature of the weapon---used in its designed purpose, it is a violent tool. Some of the best times of my life have been the most "violent", just without the negative view of being harmful (or at least balancing the harm with some perceived benefit).
George S. Ledyard wrote:
I maintain that non-violence is in your heart. You do everything you can to avoid a conflict. When the conflict is over you let it go and harbor no ill feelings. During the conflict you do whatever is deemed necessary in your own mind to resolve that conflict. If the attacker is seriously violent then the actions you take will almost certainly be violent and intentionally so.
If we begin to talk about non-violence, we really begin to see the separation between the two ideals, violence as intent and violence as universal force. It is only possible in a purely static environment for "non-violence" as an ideal to exist; I believe what we call "non-violence" is really just having non-harmful intent. Using the concept of non-violence has been one of the most effective weapons of political leaders in the last century. But I don't think that has "stopped the violence"; the Chinese takeover of Tibet in the 1950s was violent---there really was no "non-violence". What the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people in general showed was that they were not going to respond with harmful intent, but they still allowed the violence to occur, hence my meaning of "no non-violence".
We must become comfortable with our universe, its violent nature, and the nature of violence within each one of us. An old koan I heard (and will presently butcher, methinks) goes something like this:
Q. Where do you find the exits when the house is on fire?
A. Sit down and strike a match.
We cannot escape this, we can only become aware of it. I apologize if I insist on being knitpicky, and I am not attempting to take two notable teachers to task here. The real question I would ask is "why do we insist on looking at words like violence
as something we should avoid?" Help me.