Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Consenting Adults

Human beings live our lives against the background of a sea of violence.

Here in the U.K. there have been a number of high-profile stories in the news lately about horrific acts of human violence. Teenagers brutally stabbed to death with multiple stab wounds just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Failed petty criminals taking out their frustration by mutilating innocent victims. Boys riding bicycles carrying guns and using them in cycle-by shootings. Knife crime. Gun crime. Gang violence. Domestic violence. The USA is robustly claiming to have stopped torturing detainees, but many regimes in the world routinely use torture as means to their end of maintaining the power of the powerful. Even if we are lucky enough to not be living in war zones, or places where bombers and terrorists and bomb scares are not part of the daily commute, we live our lives against a background of raging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ethnic conflicts all over the world.

Human violence, when it is reeked on people and animals who have not volunteered, is a terrible thing. Some people enjoy violence - it is the nature of their beast. I am working for a world where violence only occurs between consenting adults. I think violence against animals should never be tolerated, as I don't believe animals have the where-with-all to enter in to a consensual agreement.

I think consent and choice really is the key. Violence in and of itself does not have to be a problem. To open up the field slightly, there are people in our world who want to ride around in tanks and other military vehicles and kill and shoot missiles at people and buildings and so on. I think we ought to be able to find areas of the world where they can go and do that, without it having to inflict pain on civilian populations. There are for example big areas of empty desert and I have heard that parts of Siberia would be perfect.

I interviewed a representative from the "Wave Trust" (Worldwide Alternatives to ViolencE - I think it stands for.) You can watch the interview here: Phil Shepherd discusses the Nurse Family Partnership and The Roots of Empathy Program. Phil is a trustee of the UK Charity, the Wave Trust.

I wouldn't recommend fighting violence with violence. That route is self-defeating. What is missing is the creation of education as holding out for people the fulfilment of their destiny.

Here is a pertinent talk by Philip Zimbardo, the leader of the notorious "1971 Stanford Prison Experiment", and an expert witness at Abu Ghraib. His book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil explores the nature of evil.

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