Saturday, March 08, 2008

Visions of Violence


To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness. - Confucius


Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba is credited as the author of aphorisms taken from lectures and poems that would eventually be compiled into The Art of Peace. Ueshiba's message herein is that non-violence and compassion are the utimate hallmarks of the warrior. It's ironic that the O'Sensei took this stand, given his own teacher was a ruthless butcherer who would cut down anyone who crossed his path. Fortunately, he had the wisdom to not emulate his master and cultivated a different way.

Is it really conceivable to transcend violence when our culture is so immersed in it? Everyday we're bombarded with news reports of civil unrest, terrorism and otherwise ordinary people gone berserk. What's so unsettling is that these sort of grisly events have become the norm in the news. Worse still is how we as a society have become so desensitized to these things. Violence, bloodshed and mayhem exist not only in newscasts, but perversely in our entertainment outlets: graphic martial-art video games, rap music that espouses gang violence, and movies that depict torture scenes just to name a few.

Like Ueshiba, are we capable of seeing the folly to all of this, or do these gruesome images take their toll on us in some way? Research has shown that extended exposure to violence leads to brain activity patterns that may be characteristic for aggressive thoughts. Monkey see, monkey do so to speak. Not that we're incapable of separating fact from fiction or putting a horrific news report into its proper perspective on a conscious level, but rather that we are affected subliminally.

It seems nearly impossible to have any faith in concepts such as non-violence and compassion when we're force-fed a nonstop barrage of man's inhumanity to humanity. Should the media take more of an active role in not sensationalizing bad events? We too have the choice to not partake in a pop culture that glorifies violence and even murder. I'm not suggesting that we cut ourselves off from reality or view life through rose colored glasses, but we need to realize that the constant depiction of violence in our daily lives can have profound ramifications on us, and especially our children.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Silverstar said...

I agree that there is too much violence in all forms of media and pop culture today. It also seems strange that violence in movies is considered 'normal' and they often get lower ratings-PG 13-but show nudity (even in a non-sexual context) and its instantly rated R. This shows some very twisted logic to me.
Its not easy with the steady diet of violence and bloodshed coming at us all the time in the media but its up to the person to try and rise above their violent tendencies and teach their children to practice restraint as well. :)

7:54 AM  
Blogger Bob Patterson said...

Jon -

It's too bad we all can't think like Morihei Ueshiba. I've tried and I can't square pacifism. I blame my fours years of prison work on that.

I'm what Bertrand Russel calls a non-absolute pacifist. Violence is the last option, but it's still an option.

Regardless, once again you have a very thoughtful post.

~BCP

5:12 PM  
Blogger [Mat] said...

Hey, in the workplace environment, anger is put forward as a trait to develop. UGH.

So, what to do, what to do.

While aikido means something like "the way to unify with life's energy" or "The way of peaceful energy" or whatever, it still has very powerful roots in daito-ryu.

Many school that trained in aikido devert and train in aikibudo or aiki-justu.

From aggression, to peace, to aggression. The arts evolve. The characters evolve.

Understanding duality is the essence of all things. Freedom of choice is a blessing and a burden. As with all burdens, the variety of ways it is dealed with is as great as there are humans. And then, as great as there are phases in a human's short life.

Understanding and living are two very distinct experiences as you often mention. Balance is key.

Have a good day. and turn that tv off!

9:14 AM  
Blogger Charles James said...

Hi, John

Good points all! You might find the book "The Power of Now" and "A New Earth" which talks about this subject, i.e. violence in news etc., a good read or place to finish.

There is a low vibration in our universe that connects to the ego which causes this to be a big seller.

Take away the profit and it will go away. Collective positive vibrations will also take it away.

We have to try!

9:58 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Violence is a part of human nature.

7:17 PM  
Blogger John Vesia said...

Silverstar:

It also seems strange that violence in movies is considered 'normal' and they often get lower ratings-PG 13-but show nudity (even in a non-sexual context) and its instantly rated R. This shows some very twisted logic to me.

I agree. It should be the other way around.
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Bob:

Ah yes, Bertrand Russell - another great mind of the 20th century. Thanks for that link, Bob.
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Mat:

Interesting how aikido slowly developed from its daito-ryu origins. When Takeda referred to aikido as an "elegant dance" he wasn't at all being sarcastic.

Have a good day. and turn that tv off!

Thanks, you too! (TV - what's that? )
; )
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Charles:

"The Power of Now" and "A New Earth" which talks about this subject, i.e. violence in news etc., a good read or place to finish.

Yes, especially the latter. Eckhart Tolle's views have distinct Zen roots also.
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Rick:

Violence is a part of human nature.

Part of my nature is devouring an entire box of chocolate chip cookies. I just need some self-control. : )

11:34 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I definitely agree that there are things that are age appropriate.

CNN, and then Fox and the rest, changed media and the news forever, by turning what was once considered an institutional obligation for the studios into a ratings competition designed to generate revenue. When the news became entertainment, things shifted for the worse.

9:09 AM  

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