The Rise of Senseless Violence
Senseless violence is on the rise. It actually has been for a few decades now. Understandably, people are desperately seeking answers. And they’re looking for solutions. Sadly, however, we’re largely looking for answers and solutions in all the wrong places.
True, passing new laws and imposing various restrictions can have an impact. But such solutions are often temporary and only partly effective. Why? Mainly because most decently-minded folks don’t behave well merely because of the rules. And wrongly-minded folks rarely let the rules deter them. Disturbed characters are notorious for finding their way around the rules – or ignoring them altogether!
Where the Answers Truly Lie
The real answer to all the senseless violence we increasingly witness lies where it always has: character. Feeling frustrated is not a new thing. It’s merely a reality of life. Being angry at the world and feeling so hurt and betrayed by it is also nothing new. And feeling so much at your wits end that you want to lash out or make others pay – also not new. What’s unique to our times is having so many folks among us who lack the internal resources and controls necessary to refrain from the unthinkable, especially when severely distressed.
As I have written before, and I’m more than happy to assert again: character is like a psychological immune system. It enables human beings to remain grounded in the midst of turmoil. It gives us the strength to do what’s unpleasant but still necessary for our own good and the good of others. And it gives us the strength to resist the appealing but ultimately harmful. But perhaps most importantly, it’s the only valid answer to all the senseless violence we’re witnessing these days.
Mobsters and gangsters have always played by a different set of rules. History shows they always could control their violent impulses. They selectively chose not to do so when, according to their alternate rule book, circumstances warranted. But folks lacking a solid, deeply internalized, and rightly formed internal governance system can do the unthinkable unpredicably. That’s why increasing the number of folks among us who have well-developed character represents society’s only genuine insurance against all types of senseless violence.
How We Get There
As I mention in Essentials for the Journey, the way we must restore character more universally is the same way we lost it: incrementally. Yes, one heart at a time, beginning with our own, that’s how we reclaim decency and civility.
I have a few other things to say on this topic on the latest Character Matters podcast.