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Violence is The Issue

Howell Hurst Constitutional Issue, People, People Politics


The core, the root, the nucleus, the marrow, the essence – the very heart of the matter in America today – is not race, color, ethnicity, or religion. It is the trait that has over decades emerged as an almost acceptable means of confronting dissension between and among people with different beliefs.

It is Violence. It is the use of physical, philosophical, and psychological deadly force as an acceptable bargaining tool. It is bashing other people in the head to bring home a point. It is allowing our emotions to over-ride our brains in dealing with differences of opinion.

The acceptance and demonstration of force has become a near creditable means of asserting ourselves in situations that appear otherwise unresolvable. Physical and psychological power have both attained the status of deserving consideration when the intellectual going gets tough.

We don’t like that word “Intellectual” in America. It has come to mean “weak” to too many people in too many walks of life. “Intellect” itself deserves force – the force of oral debate, of the word-articulation that emerges when we consciously put our brains in gear and apply premium grade cerebral gas.

America has too long since the end of World War II officially accepted force as a tool of diplomacy and philosophical conflict. We praise it. We applaud it. We make it the focus of most of our literature, of our films, of our stories about ourselves.

Further, we have enforced it with the most powerful military in the world; and we have augmented force by sharing its tools with our police. Our artists have justified violent force as a tool in their work to the point that if it is not contained in a film or story, we seek hotter entertainment.

Yes, writers have always used force as an audience grabber, but great artists have also coupled it with the clear message, that force is the enemy of mankind, not its moral salvation from, or its ethical solution to, anything.

Violent force, physical or mental, whether practiced by the far Left or the far Right, by the Liberal or the Conservative, by the Racist or the Resister of Racism, is the hostile party in our society. It is the fake contender to the true substance of a democracy.

Democracy is built upon the rational exchange of views and opinion through the lucid, eloquent presentation of differing emotional points of view – to the point that the emotional differences of people are eventually resolved by a commonly accepted perspective around specific matters of mutual importance to their survival.

When the art and the science of articulate debate is supplanted from either side of an argument with a fist in someone’s face – and force is substituted for the rational tools of speech and writing – democracy, bit-by-bit, is sacrificed.

It is then replaced with confusion, discord, turmoil, and eventually by crude blood-letting brawls. That is where we have gotten to in America. More, we have invested murder with legitimacy in this mental and moral morass.

Physical, philosophical, and psychological Violence have bewildered and paralyzed us politically. They have impoverished our capacity as a people to effectively temper our emotions and exercise our constitutional authority.

We are now finding it laboriously difficult to guide our own destiny as a democratic nation. A rupture is being exacted in the flesh of our political democracy. We are at the point where we must define what that rupture is, and exactly where we stand relative to it.

The solution lies in acknowledging the indefensibility of Violence as an acceptable instrument of public discourse. America must reinvigorate the careful and accurate use of words – not only to maintain peace, but to allow broad differences of opinion while establishing real communication among us.

Anyone unable to reject Violence as a channel for positive change is the enemy we all must confront as unacceptable in our midst. A nation of people cannot empower violently-motivated individuals and groups to pretend to be credible participants in democracy.

Violence is a last ditch tool properly placed with great reluctance in the hands of an elected government, by people constitutionally-authorized, in order to enforce their wishes – only when all other means have been exhausted.

The sole legitimate alternative to that is when an elected government is not exercising its publicly-mandated responsibility to reflect the majority. And that, Revolution, as we well know from our own history, is yet another subject requiring serious Non-Violent debate.

The point presently remains clear: Violence definitively separates us. Non-Violence can unite us. This is not an easy tool to relearn how to use, since we have largely accepted its opposite. It is, however, worth the effort of all of us to bring it back.

Without it, we will get nowhere.

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