A World Full of Violence
We live in an increasingly violent world. In fact, violence is so prevalent in our lives that we’re largely desenitized to it. Everyone wants what they want and lacks compunction about the viciousness with which they go after it. Sometimes it seems like you take your life in your hands just making a trip to the grocery store in your car.
There are so many ways to be violent. And most of our violent behavior is not physical. Sometimes, the violence is in our words: hateful, spiteful, heart-crushing words. And it can be in our actions, too, even subtle, hurtful actions that aren’t clearly physically violent. Exploiting one another, crossing major boundaries, taking advantage – all of these things are forms of violence. And while many times this violence is in the open, sometimes it’s covert. (See also: Aggression and Covert-Aggression and In Sheep’s Clothing.) But whatever the case, violence in one form or another has been the destroyer of relationships and families. And it’s become the destroyer of communities and societies, too.
This increasingly violent world of ours is no accident. For decades, we’ve “enabled” it in many ways. Now, let me be clear, the world is no stranger to violence. What’s new is how pervasive and irrational we’ve let it become, in all its forms. We’ve become far too used to it. And many times, we unwittingly contribute to it.
Mindfully Navigating the Minefield
Some days it seems like everything is fight. You have to fight for someone on the other end of the phone to even hear you, let alone help you solve the problem you called about. You might find yourself fighting for respect at work or within your relationship. All of this is exhausting. And, more than likely, a big part of you laments the reality. That begs the question of what, if anything, there is to do about the situation.
We all have the power to make this a less violent world. How? By being one less violent person in the world. And how do we do that? By facing and dealing with the conflicts raging in our own hearts and taking the loving course. And by loving course, I don’t mean being a doormat. Taking the loving course in life begins with understanding and committing to healthy self-love. Standing firm on principle and nonviolent self-advocacy is the heart of assertiveness.
Assertive, loving folks aren’t afraid to call one another out on senseless violence. When it comes to confronting toxic behavior, it’s not so much the what we say or do as it is the how we say or do it. That’s the heart of what I call “benign confrontation.”
The Role of Character
The only remedy for an increasingly violent world is character. Laws and rules can’t save us (see: Can We Legislate Character?.) They can’t accomplish what has traditionally been the role of proper character formation. Character, as I define it, is akin to a psychological immune system. It helps us navigate our troubled, often violent world without adding to problems. And that’s precisely why I felt compelled to write Essentials for the Journey. History has provided us with proven principles for making our lives and the world less problematic. And those nearly forgotten principles are what the book is all about.