Monday, July 21, 2008

The Demons Within

I try not to think of it, but there are times when I frighten myself realizing how precariously I can balance between my self delusion of being St. Francis of Assisi and the awareness of my potential to be Vlad the Impaler. I abhor violence in all forms, especially that performed on one living creature by another. I am vehemently, rabidly against the death penalty. Yet even as I rale against it, I know full well that, were someone to harm someone I love, and I had a gun in my hand, I would not hesitate for the blinking of an eye to use it. Not just use it, but do so with icy deliberation, starting with both knees, working up to the groin, then, when I am quite sure the perpetrator fully appreciates the fact that he probably should not have done what he did, one between the eyes. And I would still have a couple bullets left just in case the first four hadn’t done the job.

Man is, after all, a predatory animal. He could not have survived without using violence to get what he wanted. But it seems that 5,000 years of painful struggle to become something better than what we are has, regrettably, done little or nothing to tame our violent instincts.

I am unalterably opposed to the death sentence…not only because far too many innocent people have been put to death by our overly zealous criminal “justice” system, especially in enlightened states like Texas. Once having executed someone, a state’s “Ooops, sorry about that” doesn’t quite cut it. Even for the guilty, being put to death does little. Other than the momentary terror of receiving a fatal injection, once they are dead, their punishment is over. Far, far better…and in the long run, much more fitting…to lock the criminal away for the rest of his life, so that every morning he may wake with the memory of what he has done and the knowledge of where he is, how he got there, and what his future holds.

I tend to be a believer in the old “an eye for an eye” principle when it comes to violence. One of my first acts when I am declared emperor will be to order that any act of deliberate violence performed by one person on another (or on a helpless animal—and no, we will not get into the subject of vegetarianism just now) will have the exact same violence performed on him/her. A slap in the face will get you a slap on the face; shoot someone between the eyes so you can steal their new pair of tennis shoes and you will be shot between the eyes. Simple.

As to my own tendency to violence, I am always aware that it is there, lurking somewhere in the dark corners of my mind. I am prone to being plunged into a fury when things do not go the way I have every reason to suspect that they should. I usually manage to turn the fury inward, but I have been known to throw, smash, and jump up and down on things. The one time I directed my anger and frustration at another human being was when I first lived in Chicago and was involved in an absolutely disastrous relationship. At one point, I threw him into a wall and broke his arm. Not my proudest moment.

That our culture, sadly, is increasingly enured to violence should not come as any great surprise to anyone who has read a newspaper or watched a television news program. It’s hardly surprising that children assume, from everything they see and hear, that violence is a perfectly logical way to settle any dispute or conflict. The concept of the consequences of violence is totally ignored.
So that’s what I think about violence. And you damned well better agree with me, if you know what’s good for you.

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