Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
by Dick Stoute
My main interest is understanding consciousness, but along the way, I find myself examining the human condition from different perspectives and wonder. Is the recent “glorification of gun violence” a thought provocation; an invitation to turn disaster into opportunity?
Rejection and punishment are our immediate responses, but after emotions fade, as they always do, we can use creative thinking to understand what is happening to the young people trapped in the cycle of violence.
Human beings, all of us, are attracted to violence. It injects excitement into drab lives. Our press and social media show this clearly.
Many of us are happy just to watch, listen, and enjoy the violence being expressed, but some get trapped by their emotional response to the violence being expressed.
We walk a fine line, sometimes leaning left, with its warm cooperative emotions and sometimes leaning right, getting hot, angry, and sometimes violent.
All of us enjoy getting hot from time to time. Some of us go to work to quarrel, as quarreling triggers the releases opioids that make us feel good. Bosses are not excluded, nor are civil servants or union officials. We are all human and we all like an “excitement” fix.
We tease, jostle and push each other, play sports: all to get our neural networks to release opioid “excitement”. We watch violent movies and listen to quarrels in call-in programs.
News organisations deliver violence in bulk and also tease, niggle and insinuate to prompt violent responses and attract readers. We seem happy to generate excitement this way until someone gets killed.
Like barking dogs, people can get locked into an escalating cycle of exciting conflict. It can start with vicious gossip and escalate to quarrels, child beatings, long term grudges, prejudices and gang violence.
Most of our social problems have to do with human-on-human conflict and to minimise it we need simple models that help us understand ourselves well enough to break out of these habits.
Edward De Bono delivered a lecture at our Central Bank some years ago and promoted what he calls a Po; a provocation. To solve the problem of pilots not being able to see the runway when they are landing, just land the plane upside down. A ridiculous idea, to be sure, but it jolts us into a different way of looking at problems we want to solve.
Here is a Po on violence. Erect a statue to violence. Give it a gun and a gold chain, but also give it a collar and a robe to symbolise its official presence in our religions and legal systems.
Set it on a podium with a microphone to show its prominence in our media. Give it wealth and make it a bully. Have it enjoying itself being angry. It will need many faces, to express the ways we have of inciting violence.
We need to recognise and understand, rather than promote, or condemn violence. Our artists are acute observers of human nature and can use poetry, rhythm and song to erect statues in our imaginations and help us appreciate our own nature.
Bob’s “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery” sticks with me. We need to know how. Our best teachers are our artists, but they must first emancipate themselves, shrug off foreign ideas, imposed on gullible innocents.
Start with the core, a self-examination that reveals our own strengths and build on that.
Know yourself is always good advice. Understanding violence would give us a good start.