Violence—how the individual can respond


Violence—between nations, on the streets, in the home—is a persistent problem. Today, more than ever, its ugliness is impressed on consciousness. Enhanced means of communication bring even the most hidden instances of violence—domestic strife, for example—to our attention.

A temptation is to bow to cynicism—the attitude that violence is innate in human nature and can, at best, be kept within bounds by systems of laws and sanctions. On a more positive note, a number of educational programs attempt to show people alternatives to violence—alternatives such as ways of mediating disputes or helping youth find more constructive paths in life. These are admirable endeavors and deserve active support.

But perhaps the most fundamental response has to take place deep within the individual, where daily and hourly the choice between violence and non-violence is made. That choice, in any given circumstance, rests largely on our beliefs about our own basic nature. If there's an underlying belief that man's nature is flawed and violence-prone, the option of violence is always open. And it can seem by far the most alluring choice when pride and will enter in.

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Ageless opportunity
June 16, 1986

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