How to respond to Violence?

Often, in our daily life, we come across this challenge of violence, where we end up making a choice on how to react in the face of violence.
Should we react violently (i.e tit for tat) or should we respond with (Gandhian) non-violence.

How will I respond if someone behaves with me violently? Should I also be violent?

I think the answer to that question purely depends upon my current psychological conditioning. If I am a violent person, that is I am conditioned into violence by society, peers and various theories, I will respond violently, if I am rather meek, I may chose the route to run, if I am confused, I can respond eitherwise.

The often made mistake here is to look for yes or no kind of answers.

We try to get to the answer to this highly complex question by reading theories, looking towards authorities, ways of society (parents, neighbors etc) and use what we best connect with. I think this whole process of coming towards the answer to above question is an unproductive exercise and whatever conclusion we derive (be or not be violent) is not going to hold strong as it is unintelligent. Any answer which comes out of verbal/analytica intelligence can never meet a challenge which is deeply psychological. The clarity required should come from inside directly.

Instead, a more prominent question should be – what to do in the episodes between Violence?

All of us also go through times when we don’t face lot of violence (as an individual or entity). What we do during this interval is going to have very deep impact on the further events of violence and how we handle them.

Should we keep preparing ourselves to face the eventual violence by others by strengthening us more and more?
Develop more defend and attack capabilities?
Develop communities of like-minded and like-biased people?
Keep analyzing all the war stories – good and bad, heroes and villains?
Keep taking sides?

Or, there is something else that we can do?

I think, in the episodes of piece we should try to get a very very close understanding of violence, not theories but direct psychological clarity, which will automatically take care of future decisions on how to act when faced with violence

What is violence psychologically?
Are the people against whom we act violently any different from us? If both we & them are equally unsettled by violence, won’t discussions make more sense?
How does the violence affect (Human) Dignity?
What is inside us that craves violence?
How did we feel when we were a victim of violence and would I like to subject someone else to similar crisis?
Is my violence natural or am I conditioned by society into accepting violence? Am I violence by very nature (by very birth) or people around me have systematically de-sensitized me into being violent?
Do I have any clarity firsthand or am I only acting second-hand as what I am being told/directed by various leaders, organisations etc?
Do I even realise that I am being violent when I am being rude, sarcastic, dominating, ambitious etc?
Am I violent out of need or greed?
Do I feel insecure which make me violent?

Violence is essentially a disturbance, which directly hurts the dignity of the victim. Whether it happens in the name of discipline, or whether it happens in the name of self-defense, whether it happens in very close relationships (husband-wife, parents-children) or far-off relationships( states, countries), whether it is physical or subtle, the marks of violence have left the whole of humanity only with tears and pain.

Unless, we realise this, we will keep becoming both perpetrators and victims to violence.

If we keep acting out of our shallow self interests, whether in the name of identity, language power, politics, nationalism, language, power, greed, we may have all the justifications behind us based on our religion, spiritualities, history, etc but we are still going to be confused and shallow.

There is only one yardstick that we can use to weigh all our actions – Human Dignity

And that is the only guiding light in this mad and confused world. We need to understand what human dignity is and preserve it at all costs which requires giving serious attention and self-knowledge. Without that we are very very dangerous beings.