It’s not Black or White… It’s Grey — My Final Views on Violence

When I began this course, I stated that talking about violence was difficult because it was such a broad term. My idea of violence was vague. I was narrow minded to think that violence constitutes as just a physical force intended to hurt someone. Over the last couple of months, I have learned that violence takes many forms. I always thought that violence was a hard topic to discuss because everyone defines violence differently. This class to no surprise showed me just that. By taking this class I have learned that violence is not just black or white… it is grey. A very confusing grey. There are so many types of violence and the way people perceive each act is different; which is exactly why we have different laws and standards worldwide. I learned that even within a country, laws can be confusing and contradicting; not allowing abuse, but allowing corporal punishment. A ritual killing in one country is acceptable, but is against the law in another. Throughout the course of this semester, I have learned through presentations and classroom discussions, the dynamic dimensions of violence. That being said, I am left with one question; how do we define if certain acts of violence are ethical, if each individual’s views of violence is different?

The ethics of violence becomes confusing when you question what is considered ethical. If we consider ethics as what the general population believes is right and wrong, then what if the general population suddenly believe that rape was acceptable. This of course is extreme and is something that will never happen. But take a moment to think about how we decided on what is acceptable and what isn’t. Depending on how and where you are raised, you perception of violence is different. In some countries, acts of violence can be seen as something to be proud of. Ritual killing is a practice that is thought to lead to transformations and healing.

The discussions in this class truly helped me broaden my understandings of the dynamic dimensions of violence. Hearing people’s views on ethics, abuse, rape, and other topics surrounding violence, opened my eyes to thoughts and views I have never considered before. I believe we all became critical thinkers, allowing us to clearly and rationally think about violence. I think that listening to everyone’s opinions allowed everyone to look at certain topics in different lights. A topic I keep thinking back to was the discussion on corporal punishment; specifically spanking. Within our class alone, there were many different views on whether or not is it is ethically right to spank a child. Some believed that a good reason to continue the spanking cycle was because “it was done to me, and I turned out fine”, while other believed it is an abusive behaviour and punishing a child can be done without violence. When we first discussed spanking, I thought about my past. I was spanked as a child and I believed that a spank on the bum, with reason, is not abusive. I have never looked at my parents as abusers, nor will I ever. But as the semester progressed, and the conversation about spanking continued, I began to second guess myself. Talking about violence, specifically about abuse and spousal abuse, I began to question whether or not I would spank my child. Like I mentioned before, violence can be a confusing topic, but when it comes to discussing ethic and moral values, I waver on whether or not to spank my child. I obviously have the choice to spank my child, and it is not against the Canadian law; but there is also a non-violent approach I could be taking to the situation.

Coming to the end of this semester, I only wish that we could have talked more about the prevalence of violence in today’s society. Violence has never been something you could hide from. Whether you have been personally involved in a violent situation, or you’ve seen it in the movies you watch, the news you see,the books you read, or the games you play, violence is something you cannot avoid. The exposure to violent acts and violence are so prominent in everyday life, we become immune to it. President Obama made remarks after a school shooting in the United States saying “Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it… We have all become numb to this”. Though he is specifically addressing a school shooting, I believe that this statement connects back to how often we see violence. Violence is such a common occurrence that everything from the act to the aftermath, and addressing the issue is all routine. These acts of violence occurs on a daily basis and we react less and less each time they occur. Frankly, I find this disturbing and believe that this would hold an interesting discussion in a classroom of students who view violence on the daily. Would they notice their desensitization to violence or is violence really something that has gone unnoticed in today’s society?