Sometimes violence is the answer

I already see people reading the title of this article and shaking their head in disagreement. Hopefully they’ll be willing to set their bias aside and read with an open mind.

We are way more ‘civilized’ than we’ve ever been. Enough so that you can say there is a bias against physical violence in this society.

We’ve developed systems were the need for physical violence is greatly reduced. We rely on professionals to do our violence for us and enforce the rules. This is really an amazing development in human history. Realistically, we’ve never had it so good

The problem with this is people take it for granted. They assume this system is the ‘way life is.’ And you get some seriously fucked up and out-to-lunch assumptions about life in general and violence in specific.

The biggest one is that there is some ‘divine right’ about how violence is never supposed to happen to them. (Or that oh-mah-gawd-it’s-some-kind-of-life-long-trauma if it does.) Once someone takes this attitude, they’ve slipped an anchor to reality. Worse, they start making up their own version of reality to fit that imagined ‘right.’

A point that scares me is when they start saying ‘well because I don’t use physical violence, nobody else should either.’

I like to point out that people who say ‘Violence never solved anything’ are both liars and extremists. To begin with, in order for that statement to be proven true, you’re going to have to ask every person on the planet, “Hey, did violence never work for you?” Then you’re going to have to build a time machine and ask every person who has EVER lived, did violence not work for you?” Even without the time machine, you’re going to run into some folks who it worked pretty well for.

The use of the word ‘never’ is an extremist position. But people don’t think of it that way. So they don’t stand up and challenge that stupid statement. Most folks understand that sometimes physical violence is necessary. As a society, we need to have one hell of an argument about when that is. And yes, I like the fact that the bar is held up to a high standard with most folks. But we also need to understand there are folks out there who are rabidly against any kind of physical violence. And they’re willing to let you die to prove they’re right.

When you encounter someone like that you need to know how to point out that they’re position is a barking moonbat one — otherwise they’ll bully everyone who’s trying to find a reasonable compromise or understand WHY violence was necessary.

Because face it, sometimes you gotta use force to solve a situation. The challenge then becomes how to explain to people that it was the right decision given the circumstances and that you didn’t over react. This especially to the cops.

Marc MacYoung

I used to be that way, to say that “violence is never the answer”.

Eventually I came to realize that sometimes violence is the answer.

First, you must accept that, for the most part, we all condone violence as an answer; we just delegate undertaking that violence to someone else – the police, the military, etc.. That’s what enables a lot of people to take the stance of “violence is never the answer” because of this delegation. But note it’s precisely because someone else is willing and able to do violence on their behalf, that they are enabled this “privilege” of being non-violent and espousing non-violence as some sort of ideal to strive for.

Would it be nice if we could eliminate senseless violence from the world? Sure. But it won’t happen, Jack. Violence is a part of life and being throughout history; it’s just part of the human condition. The trick is how you look at that violence.

See, violence in and of itself is neither good nor bad. It just is. The evaluation of good or bad depends upon the people involved and the context. If my daughter is being raped, that violent act is bad (in my book). If my daughter draws a gun and stops the rapist, that violent act is good (in my book). And yes, right there violence is an answer. In fact, it’s likely the only effective answer because begging and pleading, negotiation, curling up in a ball, praying, hoping for someone to come along… those are highly unlikely to stop the bad violence happening now. In fact, if someone else comes along, chances are they will and the victim will want them to undertake a violent act to stop the rape, else we’re back to begging and pleading.

Or consider, as Marc also discusses in his interview, that we all tend to look at violence in some very cut and dry way. That it’s going to be some dude getting up in your face, or that mugger, or a carjacking, or just like you’ve seen on TV and the movies. There are different levels, different contexts of violence. If you’re out somewhere, someone gets drunk, starts acting stupid, and just needs to be sat on until they sober up and stop running their mouth… well, you might have to use some violence on them to get them to shut up. But that doesn’t mean breaking their arm or shooting them; it may just mean a little restraining joint lock to get them to come along with you to another room where they can sober up in private. Was this bad violence? Well, the drunk might think so at the time, but most everyone else will probably be happy to be rid of him so they can go back to enjoying the party.

As Marc alludes to, the discussion to have is WHEN violence is the right and necessary answer. And yes, the bar should be held to a very high standard. Our trouble is we’ve become “too civilized” and it’s not politically desirable to talk about violence in a frank and honest way. We think we’re above it, so we’d rather deny it. Or that we’ve move so far away from it, so many people are detached and inexperienced/ignorant of the concept, they don’t even know how to begin to discuss it. This causes our problems because violence is very real, very much exists, and while chances of you being in a bad violent encounter may be slim, when it does happen it’s going to suck, especially if you’re not prepared for it.

Consider as well that when people think about “discussing violence”, most think about physical techniques. They think the discussion is only around how to throw and take a punch, how to shoot a gun, how to use pepper spray, how to knee him in the crotch and yell “NO!” and other such techniques. This is only part of it. Another part of it is how to see that violence is coming, because there are pre-fight cues. How to avoid violence in the first place (e.g. don’t go to stupid places; don’t associate with stupid people; don’t do stupid things). How to manage the aftermath of violence. To learn “emotional self-control” (which would be good for life in general) to keep you out of trouble. “Always Be Cool“. These are topics that are very much part of the discussion of violence, and to know when it’s the right answer… and perhaps how to keep it from needing to be the answer.

To say “violence is never the answer” is either ignorant or disingenuous. I was ignorant. I became educated. I prefer violence to not be the answer, but I accept that sometimes it is the answer. Hopefully we can have open and honest discussions on this topic, as that will serve humanity far more than denial will.

6 thoughts on “Sometimes violence is the answer

  1. Thank you for the thought provoking post. I’m pretty much a pascifist by nature, but I’m also a realist. The man I’m now engaged to is ex-army and has multiple black belts in some pretty violent systems. Some of the discussions I’v ehad with him or the books he’s encouraged me to read have expanded my views somewhat. Violence is not something I’m comfortable with, but that doesn’t mean it’s ‘never’ the answer.

    • And that’s being real about things. Sure, let’s strive for the ideal of a total peaceful world, but in the meantime, we must accept the reality of the world as it presently is… warts and all.

  2. My Grandfather, a very wise man, said that people will treat you fairly if you make them. Sometimes talking will do the trick. Sometimes avoidance works, too. Sometimes they just need killing. Totally depends. Trick is- a REALISTIC evaluation of the circumstances.
    What a great topic!

  3. Metaphor time:
    As a mechanic, I have a lot of tools. Sometimes things go wrong. A socket won’t get a rusted bolt out, so I switch tools to a bolt extractor. Sometimes, things go wronger yet and the bolt extractor doesn’t work. I put away the bolt extractor and get out the drill. The rusted bolt, however, still won’t come out. Finally, I put away the drill and get out the acetylene torch. I will heat up and burn out that rusty bolt if that’s what it takes to get it out so I can complete my repair.

    Does this mean that in the future I should skip the socket, extractor, and drill in favor of going straight to the torch to remove bolts? Of course not. The torch is a tool designed to solve specific problems and is no substitute for the other tools.

    Grabbing the torch too early and often will result in unnecessary destruction. Forgoing the torch entirely will leave you with problems that you cannot solve.

    • Good metaphor.

      I think it also speaks to a greater topic of education. I mean, if all you had was a torch and the only thing you were taught as solution to the problem was “use a torch”, then that’s what you would do. But you were taught many solutions, and that problems have ranges of solutions, pick the right solution for the situation. And that’s what we need is people getting greater training and education. It’s one large argument why people need force-on-force training… because FoF isn’t just about physical skills (e.g. pull out the airsoft or replia gun and shoot, or use your fists and beat them to death), but there’s a lot of other stuff too. In fact, in the FoF drills we run at KR Training, many scenarios wind up with never a shot or altercation… you gotta use your head, and use all the skills at your disposal.

  4. “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.”
    – Winston S. Churchill

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