How to Be Free
Author: Joe Blow

Chapter 24
Violence is Admission of Error

Facing the truth about ourselves can be very painful, although only if we donít have the correct framework of understanding. Hopefully, it has been made clear by now that our essential nature is a healthy one and that, to the extent that we may behave in an unhelpful way either to ourselves or others, this is due to unfounded ways of thinking about ourselves. The truth, once properly understood, sets us free.

Anger is what occurs when we become aware of a chink in our armour. Imagine you are defending a castle. What happens when someone tries to climb in through a window? Thatís when you pull out your gun and try to shoot them. Anger is like that.

Or you could think of it in terms of a volcanic eruption. The earthís tectonic plates are like our armouring. Where there is a weakness is where the magma can spew forth in an eruption.

This doesnít mean that anger is a bad thing. Like every emotion it is trying to lead us to wholeness. It needs to be felt, and, where possible, healthily expressed.

We can tell something about the truthfulness of an individualís belief system by observing their behaviour. A belief system which is logically consistent with observable reality is very stable and requires little effort or discipline to maintain. By contrast, a deluded belief system, i.e. a lie, requires great effort and discipline to maintain. We have to be able to block out contrary evidence, think around internal inconsistencies and cling to a learned framework of thoughts, i.e. a dogma, which is not supported by what we observe around us.

The more an individualís armouring is based on a delusion the more volatile their behaviour is liable to be. There are more chinks in their armour and so they are going to be angry more of the time.

Where possible we express our anger verbally, but sometimes the anger is too strong and our ability to put it into words insufficient. This is when we resort to violence. Violence is the language of the inarticulate.

Violence, and to a lesser extent anger itself, invalidates the belief system of the individual who uses it.

There was a case of certain individuals from a particular religious faith who were so offended by a depiction of their central prophet in some cartoons that they killed the cartoonist. In so doing they proclaimed to the world that that faith was incapable of giving them the strength to cope with ridicule. Some have been happy to be martyred for their beliefs because they sensibly recognised that, when execution is the only response one's enemies have left, the moral battle has been won. If one is killed because of one's beliefs alone, that is a strong admission of failure on the part of those who do the killing. On the other hand a faith so weak that it is not sufficient unto itself but requires that others tiptoe around it for fear of hurting it, knows deep down that it is a lie. Violence in the service of religion, from witch burnings to inquisitions to crusades to terrorism, has always been an expression of the fear that comes from weak faith.

Most of the time, the best thing to do is to allow violent individuals to drain as little of our energy as possible. If we can step in directly to get in the way of them hurting someone, that is reasonable, but the way they will change and find health is through the inevitable collapse that will occur if they are left to their own devices.


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