A discussion on non-violence vs. rejecting violence as a solution.

Discussion in 'Silat' started by Sekaralas, Aug 24, 2005.

  1. Sekaralas

    Sekaralas New Member

    Let's think for a while on the concept of non-violence, and how is that different (if at all) from the ideal of 'not using violence to solve humanities problems'.
    I contend that they are two different animals. The ethics of non-violence proposes the ideal whereby all violence is rejected, at any stage of a dialogue between two parties. Violence is just not an option within the creed of non-violence.
    However, the proposal of rejecting the use of violence to solve the problems of humanity, speaks to us of a different perspective on the understanding of violence. If I reject the use of violence in attempting to solve humanities problems, what in fact does it mean? On a personal level it means that problems should be solved by dialogue and communication when at all possible. The idea of 'when at all possible' needs to be understood pedantically, and one would need to understand the context as if one were stating in terms of law.
    If someone punches me, what do I do? I dodge and try to bring the situation back into a state of equilibrium whereby the assailant and I minimise our chances of getting hurt. In the meantime I am attempting to get a dialogue happening. I gauge the success of my effort and make a decision to continue to incapacitate the assailant or if the level of violence has reduced, I continue with the communication process.
    This cycle continues until I have had to restrain or incapacitate the assailant, or we have managed to lower the level to the point that we're talking. It is through talking that we recognise problems and allows us the opportunity to find effective solutions. It means that on a fundamental level, we should seek to find out what the core issues are surrounding the problem, and then make a decision whether or not we will address the issues that we've identified.
    Let's ratchet the stakes up a bit. If someone shoots and kills a loved one, how might I respond. Initially I might very well decide that I need to respond in a similar manner, until I am able to get to a safer environment. However once the immediate situation is no longer life threatening to the ones who remain alive, my ideals would require of me to follow the rule I adhere to, that I seek to understand why the incident happened, and how I should go about ensuring that the cycle of violence doesn't continue. Whether or not I am able to live my ideal under all circumstances is still open to speculation, however as a human being, it is important that we fully inspect our own ideals.
    What happens when the perpetrator is a government, or a faceless political movement? What do you do when a bomb is dropped on your village, or a sniper in a tower kills your 12 y.o daughter? Or inflicts a rocket attack on your home? I see everyday in the world, where human beings decide that they will not bother with dialogue and communication, and will instead inflict their will in a variety of negative ways. This phenomenon is not limited to suicide bombers and the like, it is perpetrated on every level of human society, from governments to individuals.
    IMO, people from all cultures often make the decision that communication is too difficult. When communication is deemed too difficult, and there is an imbalance in the reality of our world, this will inevitably lead to violence. Those motivated to follow the violent path are often hidden, and difficult to identify. Often the perpetrators are puppet masters getting other people to do the dirty work, while they reel in the profits. They speak of honour, when they mean that the sons and the daughters of those less privileged do the dying. These types have always been with us through human history from the dawn of our time, and they are just as prolific now. All we need to do is to meditate deeply on the question, and see if we don't appreciate the social predicament in a new light.
    The approach of rejecting violence to solve problems, requires that we really do look at the source of the problems. We need to walk that mile in the other persons shoes and seek to find out why the violent option has been used to begin with. Is it greed, the lust for power, a perception that violence is the only way for the world to listen? We are living in the dark ages from a socio-philosophical point of view. The notion that there is a side is intrinsically good, and that the other side is evil, is simplistic, flawed and dangerous to the extreme. Such an attitude is counter-productive and inflammatory.

    These ideals of which I speak requires courage. No one really knows the depth of their own courage, until such time that the potential is required to come into play. Silat is a good vehicle to explore our own potentialities in a harmonious way. It also gives us the option to beat the crap out of the other person until such time we can align ourselves to our higher ideals ... hehe ... only joking! :D
  2. SilatSeeker

    SilatSeeker Valued Member

    "The notion that there is a side is intrinsically good, and that the other side is evil, is simplistic, flawed and dangerous to the extreme. Such an attitude is counter-productive and inflammatory."

    In some cases, perhaps -

    But if someone is raping your wife - seriously, are you going to ask why and enter a dialouge with them to uncover the real problem? Or take the twisted mind of the BTK killer over here in the U.S. I'm not thinking any amount of dialogue was going to lead to understanding that would cause him to stop. The inability of his victims to use violence led to more violence.

    Whether controlled by a puppet master or not - do you think that chatting with Hitler or Stalin would have stopped them? Perhaps the 25 million of his own people that Stalin killed would have wished that someone with access would have chosen to use violence to solve humanities problems in those instances.

    But, alas, perhaps I'm simplistic, flawed and dangerous to the extreme to believe that those are some pretty black and white issues of evil at work. Call me crazy... (or simple).

    I think it is far more dangerous to look at clear examples of evil and nuance them into shades of gray or even white and not take action when appropriate.

    Maybe I'm completely wrong here - that poor, poor misunderstood Pol Pot and his buddies in the Khmer Rouge - sigh, they were so misunderstood. If only we would have talked more with them.

    It's one of the great ironies of life, that the threat of violence by the strong is often the only means to get bad actors to the table to dialogue!

    So, no one in this forum is advocating wanton violence - it should be a last resort - but I think a generalization like "rejecting violence as a way to solve humanities problems" - especially by people studying to deliver violence quite effectively in the right circumstances - might sound nice but is itself too simplistic.

    And on that we will probably have to agree to disagree in the end.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2005
  3. Kiai Carita

    Kiai Carita Banned Banned

    Violence: When to use

    Asalaamu'alaikum Pendekars,

    Thank you Mas Sekaralas and Saudara Silatseeker for the sambut to my buka on violence. It seems that there is agreement that violence is an issue and an important one at that. September 11 is an appropriate memory on which to open the doors of a meditation on violence from the silat perspectivve. In Jawa culture the 'malem 11' or 'night before 11' is the one we meditate and pray in as if we could unwind time and change things back way back before the sunrise of September 11. If only we could tweak history here and there like a Holywood script but we can't so we unite in sorrow and through flow and beauty we search for a better way.

    What man makes man can change.

    The culture of violence meaning man made violence has many levels from the Big City S&M Clubs to real Wars and everywhere in between. Everywhere in our 'zaman' we see expressions of violence. Way back before many of us were born Konrad Lorenz even observed aggression and violence in the geese he studied for writing his book 'On Agression'. Violence is here to stay and it is in our nature. However our nature is also to transcend ourselves and transform and evolve.

    From the silat point of view it might help to differentiate between personal violence and war for the two are different things. The Surah Al Hajj ayah 39-40) explains when war is allowed to be chosen. A translation of the Holy Qur'an could be:

    "To those against whom war is made, permission is given to fight, because they are wronged - and verily Allah is Most Powerful for their aid. They are those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right except that they say "Our Lord is Allah" ... Had not Allah checked one people by the means of another, there would surely have been razed down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid His cause for verily Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might, Able to enforce His Will."

    Who is allowed to lead the wars we must think very hard of because Allah gives guidance with an 'if'. Al Hajj 22: 41: "They are those who if we establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, enjoin the right and forbid wrong. With Allah rests the end and decission of all affairs." I would say that this ayaat would suggest we need deliberations through direct referendum and a more representative democracy and a mechanism like that would be the way to decide if who why when and what war should be waged.

    On the personal level violence the rule of the big toe is simple: killing is allowed in self defense for the preservation of life. Silat in the ilmu kebatinan level is about bringing to life not about killing. Gya dumilah mangulah ngelmu bangkit! - Make haste and develope the knowledge of rising up!

    Answering your question about cars Silatpupil: Yes we do need to produce cleverer cars rather than phallic extensions! Yes we should recycle! Silat teaches to consume less share more and enjoy the meaning of contentment. Silat is alchemy: the blind shall see, the poor shall be given comfort, elephant's dung shall become gold.

    You train a life time and cultivate energy a life time and live a full life. A life time can be any number of years. If you are lucky and your silat is good you will never have to use it in self defense until the day you die relaxed at a ripe old age and after that you are not iin this world anymore. You will have to use silat in more mundane things like waking up nights in a row for a exhausted wife and a sick baby or rescuing a cat for the next door neighbour or calming down an upset client while still clinching the business or moving the storm away a while till your boat reaches docks.

    If you have a generous heart you might take up healing and mend bones with bells or study homeopathy aromatherapy jamu and medical-anthropology or ethno-forestry or urban-planning or rare orchids or even the knickers of the rich and famous or just be a farmer in the sawah or a security guard in a dodgy club and teach what you know and seek to learn what you don't or something like that just do your best.

    Killing is something that we can only do under specific circumstances. The is a beautiful and illuminating story about Sayidina Ali the nephew and closest student of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w sparing a man his life in battle because he felt angry and feared to kill in anger for he knew that killing is only allowed in Allah's path not in the counsel of anger. Your consience knows which choice is Allah's path and the choice to kill should only be taken in self defense and for the preservation of life.

    In silat energy follows thought and in amaal the main value is in the niyah: the true intentions in the heart or the deepest most private thoughts. If the niyah comes to fore because it is dragged by a nafs then the niyah is not pure and killing is a very grave sin which will only serve to whet the appetite of the nafs.

    God Bless and warm salaams to all.

    Kiai Carita.
  4. Sekaralas

    Sekaralas New Member

    Dear SilatSeeker,
    If someone was raping my wife I would respond with violence, you are correct. I am not a saint :). However rape is an expression of subjugation (normally), a negative and destructive expression of personal power, the origins that can be traced back to an imbalance somewhere along the life-line of history. Everything, including the movements surrounding PolPot, Hitler, Ghandi, Queen Elizabeth, President Bush ad infinitum, Prime Minister Sharon, President Bambang Yudhoyono, is an expression resulting from a long chain of catalysts.
    Every action has a reaction, and our human history is replete in examples to support this Newtonian law of physics. Whether or not I (or anyone) can live up to expectations as expressed in the higher ideals I profess to hold is not important in and of itself. I will fail, time and again (as will all of us), but in the quest for my own enlightenment I have a personal understanding that there is a path I can follow which will bring me closer to the realisation of the ideal self. As I get closer to such a truth, my belief is that my doing so will be of a benefit to my fellow man. We are really not distinct from one another, we are all part of the whole.
    You are definitely not simplistic. We are not different you and I. I think you are a person who already has much understanding. You too have thought deeply about the issues surrounding you, and you engage in dialogue.
    In my opinion, the notion that I reject the use of violence as a way to solve humanities problems, is based on the idea of the ideal. It is a notion I strive for and will fail in, over and over again, because I am foolish and weak.
    In the end, I think that the answers to the problems we face as the human race, and as part of the entirety of life on this planet, will come from the study of our own souls. An indispensable part of that process will be dialogue.
    What I have realised from Internet Forum discussion, is that if I want dialogue to move positively, it is necessary to couch the language based on truths of my own realisation. Then there is a better chance that I can be understood. Without understanding, dialogue becomes difficult.

    Kind regards

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