Wednesday, March 23, 2016

As Violence Is Discussed in Light of Brussels Atrocities, Some Food for Thought — About Violence As Our Problem, Too

Violence is in the air these days. After the events in Brussels, it's being discussed all over again — as if it's something occasional, far-away, over there, not really affecting most of us much of the time. As if violence has roots in them but not among us . . . .

Here are some gleanings from my log of excerpts from books I've read over the years which remind us that violence is not their problem but our problem, too. These gleanings (some of which I've shared already here in different contexts) remind us that violence has roots, and those roots implicate us as well as them.

Philip Greven, Spare the Child: The Religious Roots of Punishment and the Psychological Impact of Physical Abuse (NY: Random House/Vintage, 1990):

The most enduring and influential source for the widespread practice of physical punishment, both in this country and abroad, has been the Bible (p. 6). 
Religious rationales for physical punishments have been, and remain, among the most powerful and influential theoretical justifications for violence known in the Western world. For generations, they have woven the threads of pain and suffering into the complex fabric of our characters and our cultures (p. 94).

bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions (NY: William Morrow, 2000):

If you go door to door in our nation and talk to citizens about domestic violence, almost everyone will insist that they do not support male violence against women, that they believe it to be morally and ethically wrong. However, if you then explain that we can only end male violence against women by challenging patriarchy, and that means no longer accepting the notion that men should have more rights and privileges than women because of biological difference or that men should have the power to rule over women, that is when the agreement stops. There is a gap between the values they claim to hold and their willingness to do the work of connecting thought and action, theory and practice to realize these values and thus create a more just society (p. 90).

Ivone Gebara, Out of the Depths: Women’s Experience of Evil and Salvation, trans. and intro. Ann Patrick Ware (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002):

Institutionalized violence against women is not just one specific act of violence but a social arrangement, a cultural construct geared to degrade one pole of humanity and exalt the other (p. 81). 
Some may object that religion has not often been a place of violence. On the contrary, in view of the patriarchal characteristics of the main religions of the world, religion has been not only an arena for violence but the ultimate justification for violence launched against all kinds of people and both men and women, but especially women (p. 104).

Richard Rodriguez, Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography (NY: Viking, 2013):

There is something in the leveling jealousy of the desert God that summons a possessive response in us. We are His people becomes He is our God. The blasphemy that attaches to monotheism is the blasphemy of certainty. If God is on our side, we must be right. We are right because we believe in God. We must defend God against the godless. Certitude clears a way for violence (p. 46).

The graphic, Caravaggio's "Sacrifice of Isaac," which is in the Uffizi, is in the public domain and has been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons for sharing.

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