Monday, March 14, 2011

What is it good for?

I was talking with a coworker not too long ago who was upset with the boss. He said that he wanted to punch him in the face and I explained that it was never worth it. Later, he came up to me and explained that he I, being white, would never understand the pressures that he, being black, has dealt with all his life.

While I suppose I understand his reasoning, I still maintain that it wouldn't be worth it. The non-violent campaigns of history have yielded more lasting success than the violent, forceful ones. In fact, history has shown that violence is the preferred tool of the state, rather than the people. Every state in the world that I can think of has taken a monopolistic approach to the use of force.

The most effective way, from my point of view, is to use reason rather than force, to effect change. Even in the case of perceived racism, the method most likely to generate a desirable outcome would be to either ignore it or approach the issue peacefully. Odds are good that succumbing to a stereotype of violent outbursts will do little to help your cause.

Note that the stereotype of violent outbursts has been associated with many different cultures. Arab peoples for example have become the villain du jour of the conservative movements, despite the militant and terroristic segments accounting for less than 1% of the total population (if that much). To provide some contrast, outlaw biker clubs have made it a point of pride to be the 1% that is responsible for violence in their subculture.

To succumb to violence is to lose one's self to your emotions. Rarely is violence worth the trouble of proving a point. From the standpoint of libertarian ideology, initiating force on another is pretty much the worst thing one can do. While disagreements occur, there is always a peaceful method of resolution available.

One thing that always annoys me is the idea of respect. I have had many friends pursue violence in an effort to reenforce the respect they think another person has not given them. Kinda like getting into a fight, just to prove a point. This never seems to solve anything, especially the respect that is desired. I can't imagine that after being punched by someone, the victim feels anything even remotely like respect for the attacker. If anything the attack would conjure either fear (which I suppose is the true goal) or the desire to retaliate. Retaliation escalates the conflict and the cycle of violence begins, potentially ending in arrest. The respect of another is not worth losing your freedom.

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