I come from a country that has been ranked by the UN as the most violent in the world. But! I had a happy childhood. I grew up in a city that had a thriving economy and I spent summers running around in my grandparent’s farm or swimming under waterfalls. I spent Christmas playing robbers and thieves with cousins in a small town by the Andes mountain range. But violence was also a part of that reality and it continues to be so today.
I’ve thought about violence for a long time. As much as I miss my family, my friends and my country, it’s hard to imagine going back to living in constant fear. The longer you go without worrying about whether or not you’ll be shot if you use your smart phone out in public, the more intolerable that scenario seems.
Violence comes out in different ways. I never heard about mass shootings until I was living in the US and Columbine happened. I was living in Pennsylvania and I remember Butler Senior High Scool installing metal detectors a month later. My friend Amanda was suddenly concerned about what could happen to her for wearing black eyeliner and decorative chains and belts.
I remember being in Tel Aviv over a year ago when the climate between Israel and Palestine was particularly tense. I was shocked to find out that they had a panic room in my friend’s apartment building. Kenya, France, even Iceland, I can think of acts of violence in every country I have ever visited.
But my intention is not to talk about depressing realities for the fun of it, I just want to acknowledge the fact that all humans have the capacity and a tendency to be violent. It’s possible that if we accept that to be part of our nature, we can be more proactive about understanding why wars, for example, are a fundamental part of our history and still a reality today. I understand that it’s easier not to think about things that make us feel uncomfortable, but that level of detachment might not be beneficial if we are trying to generate change.
If we remember that we are animals, self-proclaimed “advanced” mammals with a wide spectrum of emotions not limited to sadness and happiness, we’ll remember that just like others in nature, we can also be harmful when we experience rage and hatred. I want to acknowledge this so that we can let go of it, make a point not to feed each other’s dark side and stop pointing fingers that only trigger more violent acts.
I hope I’m not being self-righteous, I’m not doing anything about anything, really. What I’m doing is using this platform as an outlet so that I can understand my own feelings about this mess. And if every action starts with a thought, and if it’s true that ignorance leads to fear, fear to hate and hate to violence, then perhaps we can work backwards and think that if we acknowledge things, we will be more empathetic and start creating a more peaceful society. It’s just a hopeful start.