Wednesday, October 2, 2013

International Day of Non-Violence

Vietnam War Remnants Museum

It's October 2nd, the International Day of Non-Violence, so I think it's appropriate to at least make a bit of noise on this blog after having been on hiatus since I published a photographic essay (using photos taken with a phone camera) of my thoughts on the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP).

It's been nearly 3 months since I returned to the Philippines from my month-long AVP exposure journey all over Indonesia and I still haven't published the musings I wrote during that time.  I have three entries already keyed-in.  All that's left is for me to paste them here and click on that orange button but I don't feel comfortable putting those stories out yet—even if it's been a while since I wrote them.  Sure, I wrote stuff for the local paper and the website of Friends Peace Teams in Asia West Pacific and they're both accessible to anyone in the world with an unrestricted internet connection; however, there is a strange force within that's keeping me from publishing the ones written while I was actually going through what I now term "epiphanies."  It's one thing when you're writing about an experience and recalling from a memory of events that happened several weeks to several months in the past; writing real-time—or at least very close to is—is an entirely different story.  The things you come up with are much more raw and the words written down bear so much more life.  Even after having been transcribed from paper to a digital surface, the words still seem, to me, like they could bleed if touched.

Am I being shy?  Not a chance!  Being shy entails resisting an internal prodding to do something; my case is that there is something in me telling me not to do it.  Forcing myself would be a form of self-inflicted violence, wouldn't it?  I don't believe I'm making excuses borne out of fear.  As far as I'm concerned, this is legitimately conscientious.  Perhaps things will ease up in time and I'll decide to get those stories out.  For now, I'll wait.  There's no rush.  After all, I am a Quaker and waiting is something I do on a regular basis.

I digress.

I'm the type of person who checks Reddit and Facebook on a regular basis, looking for news items I could sink my teeth into and there never seems to be a day when violence doesn't greet me with a heavy slap.  It's on the front page of almost every news site and forum I visit.  From the revolution in Syria to war in Mindanao to the recent hostage crisis in Kenya to the Russian government's violence against its LGBT citizens to gun incidents all over the United States of America—it's exhausting!

The sociology behind human violence is something you'd perceive to be outdated in an age like this.  It's largely a recourse that primitive humans employed to ensure the survival of the species.  Heaven, if it exists, knows there are enough of us to ensure our survival for the next millennia.  With the existence of our kind of technology and the speed by which innovation moves forward, the only thing that could wipe us out is nature's indomitable force and nothing can be done to prevent that.  So, I don't get why we're still fighting.

The principles behind causing destruction and suffering to fellow human beings are all antediluvian.  Yes, perhaps even the interpretation you hold of your holy scriptures should undergo some sort of reform to kick away parts that do not apply to the present time.  If you feel a necessity, as a human being, to hold on to a belief as you journey through life, why not let it be rooted in love and peace?  Isn't it easier that way than to be angry all the time?  I'd say religion itself is obsolete but if I speak like that, it would follow that a lot of things are—including states (i.e. countries).  Such an idea is quite far-fetched.

Now, while John Lennon's dream may not reach its realisation in this lifetime, I genuinely believe it's the direction we ought to take.  He isn't the first one to say such things.  Jesus went along similar lines.  Also, he never actually said people should build a religion centred around him and worship his name ceaselessly until their Earthly demise.  He spoke of love and peace and a divine life lived with an understanding of his existence's example, which basically screamed forgiveness and non-violence and respect to every being.  The Buddha did the same and so did Rumi and many, many others before and after them—inlcuding Mohandas K. Gandhi, whose day of birth we commemorate today.

With all that said, isn't a life of peace so much more convenient than being angry and violent all the time?  With peace, there is a simple give and take process that occurs between individuals and everybody wins.  You work to live and let live and you won't have to maintain a mantra of fear.  Whereas, with a violent lifestyle, you actually have to exert a humongous amount of energy.  Anger takes a lot out of you—more so does the act of inflicting pain and taking people's lives away.  Plus, there's the constant fear of getting killed or hurt and there's paranoia that your allies aren't actually allies; you worry almost all the time about the few people you actually care about; you get no sleep.  It all baffles me, really.  Violence is unnecessary and absolutely stupid, if you think about it deeply enough.

I think I've made my point even though this entry isn't coherent in a lot of places.  I apologise; it exhausts me to think of violence.

May Peace Prevail on Earth.