Violence is not strength.
Vulnerability is not weakness.
Most people dislike violence and don’t want to be surrounded by it, yet if we look around it’s everywhere.
From simple phrases like, “It hit me that…” “It struck me how…” to contact sports (football, wrestling, boxing, hockey) to fun toys like squirt guns.
Even in a country where the government was specifically established to protect its citizens, people believe they need guns in case their government goes awry.
Restraint, punishment, and death are viewed as the best ways to handle criminal behaviors.
When stressed we take a shot of whiskey, and to prevent illness we get a shot from the doctor.
Arms races between nations is viewed as a logical outcome of increasing weaponry and technology.
We use violence as a way of demonstrating intelligence and strength. Heroes carry huge guns or possess terrifying powers to fight back against villains. If someone is attacked, they are judged as weak for not violently defending themselves. Words of violence permeate our world.
What if they didn’t? What if there was another way of doing things, another, new way to speak without using violent words? Can we imagine them?
When I first received the idea for my novel, The Calling, I was concerned that it was unwritable, or rather, I could write it, but who would want to read a story where nonviolence repeatedly faces violence? It seemed like it would be depressing, hopeless, and futile. I got stuck on scenes, unable to find a realistic way for my characters to survive. It seemed impossible to survive in a world of predators and armed enemies without having my nonviolent characters resort to such violence themselves. The funniest example of this is when my three heroes had to break someone out of a guarded prison with only a blanket to help them. It seemed impossible, and I thought I’d written myself into a corner. Weeks went by without a solution. Then I realized the power of vulnerability.
I won’t say more than that (spoilers and all), but my point is that until we look for new ways of doing things, we won’t find them. We’ll continue with the violence, and personally, I’m sick of it. If you are as well, consider paying attention to the presence of violent words in our lives. Try rephrasing things. Consider how often we participate in win/lose situations and try switching a few to win/win situations. It’s not easy, but I believe the rewards are worth it. If you do try this, and have any interesting results, please let me know.
Branwen OShea has collected unusual stories and animal friends since childhood, when wild creatures waited on her porch for help. She helped found a cat rescue and has shared her home with an opossum, skunks, raccoons, and a crow. Her interest in communicating with animals was matched by a keen urge to help people connect with themselves and the natural world through stories.
Visit her website: branwenoshea.com