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by Lynn Seiser

Breathe in, violence
Breathe out, violence

As a counselor/psychotherapist, I am often asked about why there seems to be so much violence in the world. I usually say it is because there is so much ignorance and arrogance today. Our ignorance is about our inter-connectedness and our arrogance is about our narcissistic self-referencing.
Violence: (1) the intentional use of physical force or power, (2) destructive force, (3) fervor, (4) illegal force, (5) violate, harm, and damage, (6) ferocity, viciousness, power, (7) aggression, hostility, brutality, cruelty, carnage, (8) a sign of incompetence, (9) a self-perpetuating problem disguised as a solution
We see a lot in the news media today about violence in our society and in the world. Violence may be self-directed, interpersonal or collective and acted out physically, sexually, psychologically, verbally, or emotionally.

We hear about family violence, racial violence, religious violence, workplace violence, school violence, and gun violence (to name only a very few). We look at controlling the first part of the statement, but not the second part, the common denominator. The question isn't about all the specific types of violence, but how have we created, cultivated, facilitated, and perpetuated such an atmosphere and environment of violence?

Anyone who knows me, knows I am not a non-violent man. I truly believe that violence has its place and is at times the only logical response to a situation. I was once taught that unless it was a survival issue where I was willing to kill over it, that it was only ego and I should not fight at all.

We can look for the root cause of violence. We can say because history has always been marked and recorded by the victors in violence, that it is just the way we are, it is hard wired in, and there is nothing we can do about this normal and natural urge we have to get our way by hurting others. Yet, there has always seemed to be a lot more peaceful people than people using violence on each other. They say there is a strong relationship between violence and concentrated poverty, income and gender inequality, the use of intoxicants, and the absence of a positive nurturing parental relationship. Yet, we can probably find more counter examples than these that actually fit these factors. Therefore, we can assume that to really find (and change) the root of violence we have to look in the individual.
Ignorance: (1) lack of knowledge, (2) unaware, (3) a state of unknowing disguised as bliss, (4) a cause of suffering

Impulse: (1) sudden urge, (2) instinctive drive, whim, compulsion (3) motive, (4) driving force, propulsion, stimulus, pressure, catalyst, incentive, (5) nerve or muscle signal
In the dojo, we often hear that we are to move naturally. Yet we have a lot of history that has patterned specific impulse reactions (such as fight, flight, or freeze). People have been taught (usually through unconscious experience) to move away from (flight) or stand still (freeze) when startled or attacked. Others have been taught to move toward (fight) any threat. They may state that the best defense is a good offense and that a preemptive strike is faster than a reactionary one. Usually, when we start training we are ignorant of where these impulses come from or that they can be changed. The initial stages of training and practice is uncovering these unknown impulse patterns and to begin to interrupt them. When we feel anger and violence surface in the victim or offender/perpetrator role, we have that rare opportunity to become aware/mindful and change.

In life, we are often told to follow our heart. Our hearts and emotions have a direct (unconscious) connection to our memory and cognition. Past experience is often repressed and then repeated, looking for re-solution only to be reinforced. People raised in a violent environment (we learn what we live) tend to see/believe that violence is a possible and preferred means to settle all aspects of life's problem, without seeing that it is violence that is causing the problem we are trying to solve. We have become emotionally impulsive and narcissistic. If we unconsciously and emotionally identify with a violent role model (for survival and/or membership), we will see everything as violent. If we take everything personally, we will take everything as a threat.
Intelligent: (1) mentally able, (2) sensible, rational, wise, logical, perceptive, judicious, (3) able to store and process data, knowledgeable, scholarly, (4) self-regulating

Introspection: (1) self-examining, inward-looking, (2) deep candid examination, (3) thoughtful. meditative, contemplative, (4) soul-searching

Insight: (1) perceptiveness, (2) clear perception, (3) self-awareness, (4) visions, understanding, intuition, comprehension, discernment

Identification: (1) naming or recognizing somebody, (2) proof or document of identity, (3) strong feeling of affinity, rapport, bonding, connection
In the dojo, we often tell people to slow down and pay attention to what they are doing. The only way to get off automatic pilot is to re-assess and re-orient differently (internally and externally). I came to Aikido after a long history of hitting things. The idea of letting someone grab me and not hit back was not even a possibility. I still look forward to the day that my startle response will be Aikido (to flow, not to fight -- never was much good at that freeze or flight thing). I had a good friend tell me that he thought his problem with moving his body in a circular path was that his mind was still thinking in a straight line. Another friend told me that he did not think the technique would work by itself so he always added too much force/strength/power, which of course makes Aikido techniques fail. By knowing, understanding and accepting the principles of Aikido we can begin to apply them in training and practice. The inside and the outside must be congruent if Aikido is to be loving protection and not just another martial art promoting violence.

In life, many of us were raised in a violent world. We identified with our role models and perpetuated the violence. We often know we need to control the expression of violence, but seldom take a good intelligent introspective look into how we create it in the first place. Violence may stop a violent person, but it will never end violence as long as we use it as our primary point of reference. While we may need to maintain violence as an option we really needed, with some intelligent and insight we can see how seldom it is needed in our everyday life. Beneath most violence is the fear and pain of taking everything as a personal threat. By seeing through the illusions of ignorance and arrogance we can choose a more appropriate, effective, and efficient response pattern that will cultivate, facilitate, and perpetuate empathy and compassion. While this is not an easy journey, it is possible. If we become better role models, perhaps the next generations will become less violent.
Peace: (1) freedom from war and violence, (2) tranquility and serenity, (3) mental calm, quiet, and stillness, (4) law and order, (5) to hold silence, (6) in a state of friendship, connectedness, and harmony, (7) to resolve a disagreement
Peace is an overused word today. It seems to be what everyone says they want, but few are actually actively working towards it. Fewer yet are actually living it. We are not at peace in the world, in our relationships, and within ourselves. We think that peace will start when the other person and the world starts being the way we want it to be. Because we are not at peace with our history, and ourselves we will never find peace in our everyday world. Perhaps to stop violence we have to stop using it as our world view/map. Perhaps if we want peace, we need to intelligently install and identify with a world view/map that is congruent with peace. As I said in the beginning, there are exceptions to every rule and I certainly believe there is a time and place where violence is the only logical solution for survival. Perhaps peace is realizing that not everything is a threat to our survival (only to our ignorant and arrogant ego). Perhaps is we let (not make) the mind go calm and silent, we will all already know what the right thing is to do.

Breathe in, peace
Breathe out, peace,

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for over 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) from Sensei Dang Thong Phong of the International Tenshinkai Aikido Federation and Sensei Andrew Sato of the Aikido World Alliance. He is the co-author of three books on Aikido (with Phong Sensei) and his martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders, victims, and families of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He is a professor of clinical and forensic psychology with an expertise in family violence and treatment. He lives with his wife and trains on the Florida Gulf Coast (chasing grandchildren).
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Old 01-03-2016, 01:00 PM   #2
Neycho Todorov
Dojo: Aikido Yoshinkai Bulgaria
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2
Re: Violence

I agree with Lynn. As we don't know how and what to ignore we become overloaded with information, thoughts, whatever. An we arrogant because we don't know much about our selves. My worries is that the modern western human is also ignorant about his ignorance and pretty arrogant towards him self with preference to solitary life and formal inter-conectness. To me aggression as a way to communicate when all other means of communication have been exhausted. Nowadays we don't even know what we have exhausted. Being an old evolutionary trait aggression could be cultivated and aikido is on way to do it.
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Old 01-03-2016, 04:26 PM   #3
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,902
Re: Violence

Neycho Todorov wrote: View Post
Being an old evolutionary trait aggression could be cultivated and aikido is on way to do it.
Yes agreed.
Ignorance (believing we don't know) and arrogance (narcissistic egotism) tends to be at the root of our suffering/violence.
Being aware if it gives us the opportunity to change it.
That fact that its an old evolutionary trait implies we have not continued to evolve and remain rather developmentally immature.
Aikido is an everyday opportunity/experience if we choose to take advantage of it.
Thanks for reading and responding.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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