T.H.A.T.R.: Violence

Posted: November 13, 2009 in The Hardline According to Ren

negotiations2 copyI believe that violence is an inherent part of human nature that manifests itself in a variety of ways:  physical violence, emotional violence, social violence, cathartic violence, destructive violence, consensual violence, non-consensual violence, recreational violence, factual violence, fantasy violence…hell, I could go on all day.  But yes, sure enough, I believe almost every human being on the face of the earth not only holds the capability to do some form of violence, but the propensity to engage in some form of it regularly. 

 This is not to say that every person on the face of the earth walks around (ahem) looking to “punch the fuck out of it”, but I think in some form or another, most people engage in violent behavior of some sort quite often.

 Ah yes, I see you staring at me now…but hold up.  You see, by its very definition, violence does not mean merely a physical act of aggression that results in the harm of another human being.  The word itself means much more than that…and looking at it that way, as I do…

Why yes, the world is violent, violent place full of violent, violent people.   And why are humans like that?  Well, people would give you countless arguments as to why people engage in various forms of violence, and there are some complex and simple reasons to do so…some of which are, why yes, fully justifiable- such as self-defense…but I am going to go ahead and take that one step further and really go out on a limb here:

 I firmly believe that many humans are violent or engage in violence because they enjoy it.  They love it.  It’s a rush, it brings them pleasure.  Most people when they hear the words “You so kicked so and so’s ass”… whether that be in a physical altercation, a verbal altercation, a mental altercation, a political or social altercation…well, it brings a smile to their face.  Strokes their ego.  Puffs them up a bit, and yeah, that feels good. 

 Some people exercise this in a controlled form:  sports, art, consensual acts of various kinds with other like-minded people, the debate team.  Others do not.  Others wield that violence as a weapon in all ways and get a rush that way.  Some people do a little bit of both. 

 And some people (yes, I could look in the mirror) are obviously violent on some levels:  They like full contact sports.  Rough Sex.  Action movies.  They swear and yell a lot.  Have violent fantasies that run the full gamut.  They rarely back down from any kind of fight, even if there is a good chance they will get pummeled.  They are openly aggressive in many ways.  And yes, are honest about it.  And yep, sure enough, I will admit it:  violence is something in its various forms I have enjoyed.  Do enjoy.  But yes, I do have limits, because I think those are important too.  Most of the time.

 I will even go so far as to say I often think that violence is necessary.  No one was going to talk Hitler out of WWII.  Sometimes the only way you can make someone see reason is if they are on the ground bleeding.  There is such a thing as justifiable homicide.  And while not all violence is enjoyable to all humans…

 Well, I tend to think if it was not part of our nature and enjoyable to many on some level…we wouldn’t do it, view it, write it, have it at all.  Hell, we would not be so damn good at and dedicated to it.

But admit it or not…deep down, on some level, a whole lot of people get a rush out of hearing “you kicked ass…”

Shrug.  At least I am honest about it.

  1. Ernest Greene says:

    It’s in the blueprint. In order of one thing to live, another must die. That’s the rock upon which all utiopian schemes for eliminating violence from human nature shatter. Human nature is part of nature and nature’s plan not only includes a certain inherent cruelty, it requires some enthusiasm for that cruelty for any speciies to compete in the evolutionary race to procreate before dying. Feeding and breeding are hard-wired very close together and some bridging of those circuits occurs in most species.

    Human beings of the modern variety try to insist that this isn’t so, or at least that it doesn’t have to be, or at the very least that they are not a part of it, but those most given to denouncing the violence of others, from what I can see, are given to the most violent of thought and language, which rather disproves whatever theory they’re trying to sell.

    The success of human beings on this planet, and there can be little doubt that no previous species has done so well in so many environments, cannot be logically divorced from the remarkable appetite human beings exhibit for violence in one form or another.

    We’d be better off accepting this thing about ourselves and taking rational control of it than denying it and trying to wish it away.

    • hexy says:

      Well, no previous mammalian species. Insects are currently kicking our asses, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.


  2. rootietoot says:

    I punch the heck out of inanimate things, clay, bread dough, all while fantasizing about running people over with a ’70 Chevelle. I’ll dig holes for roses while imagining it’s someone’s grave, or split wood for the fireplace pretending it’s a head. I figure God would prefer that to the real thing.

    Since I first “met” you I have believed your physicality was an outlet that prevented you from going postal in a mall somewhere, and therefore haven’t been disturbed by it.

  3. I think there are shades of violence, or rather we need to distinguish between physicality and violence. Let’s say for example I enjoy what some people would call rough sex and I like grabbing my partner etc and they like that as well. That is not necessarily violence as the end goal is not the same. There is a world of differene between that and beating someone down.

    I do agree though that people and the world itself are inherently violent

    • Ren says:

      I think aggressive behavior in consensual settings is often an outlet thou, as in, engaging in it ‘takes the edge off’ more violent urges.

      • Dead_Vladimir says:

        see I don’t know if I agree to that. It may help you blow off steam perhaps, and the feeling good may make you less angry. The smae way exercise releives stress and tension. You might expend the energy. But if I do truly intend to do violence to a person for the reason of violence (aka they deserve it) no amount of “fun” physicality changes that. It might delay it, but…

        Now though when you are filled with a lot of directionless rage, or rage you can not release (lets say at a loved one) fun physicality might help maanage it?

      • rootietoot says:

        I have a spell I go through occasionally (as a part of the bipolar disorder) where rage takes control. And it’s serious, Do Harm stuff. Early in my years it frightened me, and I’d isolate myself, and get migraines from trying to control it. Through therapy and a GREAT doctor who told me “Roll with it, don’t try to muzzle yourself”, I’ve been able to eliminate the migraines and reduce the rages from 3-4 days to a single day. They’re still there, but a day of heavy-duty physical activity (and the lack of a large menacing car) handles it, and keeps me from hurting someone. It is definitely a “take the edge off” situation. Perhaps if I didn’t live in Statesboro and didn’t have a husband in a public leadership situation, I’d be able to do something more alternative than chop wood and throw things. Of course, my situation is a bonafide mental illness issue.

        • Dw3t-Hthr says:

          But at the same time – I have an ex who could not deal with anger. Which, towards the end of our relationship, meant that we were fighting constantly. Five and a half years of having to control my emotions so that he didn’t crumple had finally killed it.

          The relationship that replaced that is with someone with … honestly, a temper problem, at least insofar as he is very, very bad with emotional management and tends to snap all over the place when he’s stressed. We have fought less in our four years than my ex and I did in a month – because being angry isn’t of itself a fucking crisis.

        • hexyhex says:

          That’s really interesting!

          From what I’ve read, observed and, well, lived… women with bipolar tend to take our rages out on ourselves rather than other people. I certainly do.

  4. There’s medical evidence that humans enjoy violence, on a neurochemical level. As I understand it, dopamine (which is also associated with the sex drive) is often released during bouts of violence, and I think everyone is familiar with the rush we sometimes get from adrenaline in the system. So it does seem as if we are built on a biological level to be violent and get a kick out of it.

    What matters ethically is just what we do with that capacity for violence, and to enjoy it. Some people can get through life without ever being faced with those questions – violence never really crosses their paths. But the majority will at some time or another have experienced it and either dealt with it or… not.

  5. Gaina says:

    Anyone who says they’ve never even thought about committing a violent act in their lives is lying. Full stop.

    Personally I am verbally violent and my language can be quite atrocious :P. When my Dad says ‘Oh Gaina! I wish you wouldn’t swear!’ I explain to him that it’s either that or I kill someone and saying as I’m not actually tall enough to damage anyone he’ll have to put up with my language 😛

    I have a theory that violence and feelings of pleasure are hard-wired together in some humans for very sound evolutionary reasons – our species needs to have it’s numbers controlled, and we aren’t driven to kill others by hunger (like other predatory animals are) so serial killers HAVE to get some form of gratification in their crimes in order for them to do their ‘job’ of culling our species until such times as they are caught – serial killers are the sharks and lions of our species if you like.

    Yes, I know some people reading this are probably backing away from me veeerry slowly right now but that’s just how my mind works when it’s analysing anything to do with human behaviour.

    • Ren says:

      wars too, the human population thing. Wars.

      I once told an art teacher that if I did not draw the sort of, er, art that I draw, I might end up doing 25-life upstate.

    • rootietoot says:

      except that serial killers aren’t populous enough to do that job. I would buy that argument if they killed as many people as were born, but they don’t. Yes to the wars and to the emergence of disease…scientifically speaking, I think disease as a population control is more logical.

  6. Roy Kay says:

    “Every vice was once a virtue” (Durant, but maybe he just has good taste in words to steal). Absent a capacity and will to violence a strain simply dies out. Social animals, though, prosper more when the violence is used judiciously – and usually externally. More profitable to raid the neighboring village than to engage in fratricide within your own. The trick is figuring out which wars are most useful, and not risk your own blood to no good effect. That’s the practical aspect of it. Now, it is beneficial to develop an ethos of lower violence levels. In time, you can gain through peace what might be gained through violence – and without the risk to others or yourself. Violence does create destruction and impoverishment.

    Confronted with violence, though, one seeks to prevail by all means necessary. Sometimes that means charging the enemy and sometimes it mean submitting meekly with an eye to the chance to stick a shiv in their back or drop poison in their tea. One way or another it is best to answer peace with peace and violence with violence.

    I tripped over interesting counsel on how the situation people must live in influences violence in re-reading “Empire of the Steppes”: Mo-ki-lien, khagan of the eastern T’u-chueh took counsel with tonyuquq on attacking the T’ang. He was dissuaded when it was noted how the new Emperor had restore order and vigor to China. He then proposed to establish a walled capital in Karakoram on the upper Orkhon and establish Buddhist and Taoist monasteries. Again he was dissuade because the T’ang could survive a hundred lost battles, but the T’u-chueh would perish it they lost but once. “The T’u-chueh … seek water and pasture, they hunt … and they practice warfare. When they feel themselves strong, they advance. if they feel themselves weak, they retreat and hide. … As for Buddha and Lao-T’se, they teach men gentleness and humility and such learning is unsuited to warriors.”

    As with nations, so too with cultures. Those with masses probably do well to train towards sedentary peace. Those without, probably do well to train towards mobile war. There IS something of a choice, but that choice depends a lot on circumstance.

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