Violence, taught not inherent

Illustration courtesy Ted Rall/Ted Rall Blog.

I’ve heard people claim mankind is brutally violent and men specifically, are  inherently violent.

At first this might make sense. Look at crime statistics, or the history of violence we have had or even the violence that is happening today around the world.

But let’s take a closer look at these things. Crime statistics are statistics of people who are anomalies. Those who choose to commit violent actions are a small minority compared to the number of people on this planet who don’t.

Think about it this way, how many violent crimes have you committed? Crime is abnormal, and most forms of violence are criminal behavior, therefore making violence abnormal behavior.

As far as history is concerned, we like to focus on the violent parts. Consider the upcoming sequel to the movie “300.” This movie glorifies a culture devoted to war, and focuses on the most violent parts.

While it is true that Spartan culture was steeped in war, this was only one culture. The ancient Greeks prided themselves on their logical reasoning and philosophy. The Chinese were advanced far beyond many of their contemporaries at the time, and once Rome started gaining power, society in general began evolving, becoming more complex and advanced.

To look at these times and declare these were violent people or more violent than today is to focus exclusively on political events involving the military and ignoring many other advancements at that time.

The same thing is true today. There is plenty of violence happening in countries all around the world, but who is committing the majority of this violence? Political leaders giving orders to soldiers.

Of course there are many individuals that commit violence independent of armies or political leaders. As I said before though, the people who choose to commit violent actions are a minority compared to society at large.

The other thing to consider is the reason for violent behavior. If you take a closer look at crime statistics, you will notice that most violent crimes are usually committed out of passion, and not an innate desire for violence.

In fact, statistically, people who commit violence rarely enjoy it. Consider soldiers coming back from the war with post traumatic stress disorder due to the violence they encountered. This is not a new thing, it is simply shell shock with a new name. These soldiers play the same video games, watch the same movies and listen to the same music that supposedly desensitizes us to violence. Yet, they return with a whole host of psychological problems due to the violence they have witnessed. That doesn’t sound very desensitized.

If man truly loves violence, or are inherently violent, then why would those who are forced into violent situations return with lasting psychological damage specifically from those violent situations?

We are not as violent as we think we are. We do enjoy thinking about violence though. However, most of us don’t even know what violence actually is. Many of us have never even been in a situation any more violent than a fistfight.

Violence is a choice people make that has nothing to do with what they watch,  listen to or play. Instead it’s usually out of  passion whether it’s a person or  an object.

The media is mostly to blame for this. Media does not cause violence, but it does help perpetuate the stereotype that people — men specifically —  are inherently violent through excessive news coverage of almost every single violent event that ever occurs, and countless forms of entertainment centered around violence.

It’s true we’re obsessed with violence, but we’re obsessed with fictionalized violence. Even the violence in the news is fictionalized violence. It refers to actual events, but doesn’t depict them. So, often our minds drift to the illusion painted for us by film and television.

The illusion that we love violence comes from the fact that we love fictional violence. However, there is a huge difference between fictional violence and actual violence as anyone who has ever been to a war zone can tell you. In the real world, there is no slow-motion, stylized, computer generated violence, there is only real blood, real death and real violence.

Mike Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].