Tune into the news today, and it’s evident: the world is becoming an increasingly violent place. Globally, people are falling victim to wars and terrorism. At home mindless killings dominate the headlines. A significant portion of the world’s population spends their lives in deep fear, wondering how they will continue to survive in this climate of constant strife. Even with increased awareness about violence and efforts by organizations to bring peace to the world, the instances of violent behavior are at an all-time high. In fact, according to 2014 Global Peace Index, the world is continuing to become more violent. The report gives rise to several questions. How can this trend be reversed? And how can the world become a more peaceful place?
Writing on the Scholastic website, Dr. Bruce Perry points to the fact the not all humans are violent, and that there are certain conditions that contribute to violent behavior. Among these, he states, is the prevalence of hateful ideologies, which make people see others as different and as less human than them. Since violence is often related to hate, these beliefs drive the dehumanization of others and makes them a target for violence. Being detached from others too contributes to violent behavior. When we’re isolated from others, we care less about them and their welfare, writes Bruce. In addition to our relationship with others, being desensitized to death and killing also causes people to be insensitive toward others’ pain and sometimes even violent toward other people.
In order for humans to become less violent, they have to become more meditative. We urgently need to understand that today, we are not equipped with only fists and clubs anymore. We have gotten ourselves equipped with such absolutely destructive devices that today if you get angry, it is not about you killing your neighbor, you could be putting an end to the world. Once these kinds of technologies and capabilities have come into our hands, it is extremely important that the world turns meditative. If the quality of meditation does not enter this world, with the kind of technologies and destructive capabilities we have, we could cause great damage. When I say destructive, I am not talking only about the bomb.
Almost everything that we do today is destructive. The very car that we drive, the very factories that we run for our well-being are all destructive in that sense. In pursuit of our economic well-being, the volume of violence we have imposed on every other creature on this planet is unspeakable. Don’t think of violence as just killing another human being. Any destruction of life beyond the need for one’s survival is violence. If you look at it that way, today’s societies are enormously violent. Our very existence is violence.
Though there is an instinct of self-preservation in us which is a biological factor, of all the creatures on the planet, a human being has the capability to look beyond his instinct of self-preservation and express himself in the world, which is what is of utmost need right now.
Human beings have often displayed this. When the most horrible situations were happening, individual human beings stood up and expressed the beauty of what it means to be a human being. As a group, we can become an ugly force, but still the humanity in us beats. Certain individuals still stood up and expressed their humanity to show the world how beautiful a human being can be when he thinks beyond his own well-being.”