Stopping Domestic Violence

Cause of the Month, Feb. 2016: Stopping Domestic Violence

This includes:
man violence toward woman
woman violence toward man
man-man and woman-woman violence
violence against children
violence FROM children (as in Elder Abuse)
I suppose we could even include animals, as they are part of “domestic!”
The intention of this discussion is 1 on 1 spontaneous type of violence, not the kind sanctioned by religion or culture. That is not strictly speaking “domestic” and could be another whole topic another month.

Domestic violence is a really tough issue, as is that of violence more generally.

There are so many levels of institutionalised violence in our societies, and so much that is violent in reality.

It seems at the deepest of systemic levels, cooperation can be made stable, if two sets of conditions are met:
1/ That there is sufficient of the essentials of life for all members of the cooperating group to survive; and
2/ That there are sufficient secondary strategies present to prevent the cooperative being invaded and destroyed from within by cheating strategies.

At every level of cooperation these conditions must be met.

We as human beings living in today’s social reality seem to be part of about 20 different levels of cooperative systems, from the atomic, to several levels of molecular, to several levels of cellular, to organs, bodies, social and cultural structures.

We are very complex, and our environment is very complex.

Bullying is still common.
I was bullied badly at school, as were both of my children – in my daughter’s case by a teacher, but the teacher didn’t see it that way, to them it was a case of rules.

Our system of market capitalism is essentially violent to most participants.

If the conditions that support cooperation do not exist, if there isn’t enough, or if someone is cheating, we can all be violent.

We are all the descendants of survivors.
Periodically life is tough.
There really are such things as supervolcanoes, that don’t explode very often, but when they do can create winters that last for years (yes fans of Game of Thrones, multi year winters are real). The last one was in 1815, Tambora, it was relatively small as supervolcanoes go, and only one summer was lost – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1815_eruption_of_Mount_Tambora
and there have been many much bigger
http://www.livescience.com/30507-volcanoes-biggest-history.html

When life gets tough, things can get very competitive.
Every human being alive today has human ancestors that have survived thousands of such events (some lasting perhaps as long as 10 years, with fewer than 1 person in 1,000 surviving).

So all of us will have our tough sides, whether we have met them or not, they will be there – that much is certain.
I have met mine, it is not nice. Fortunately it has never “gotten loose” against another human being.

Part of creating environments that can be free of violence is creating environments where people feel secure.
Our modern economic system does not make most people feel secure.
Our brains are not great at isolating contexts.
Insecurity in one context tends to alter emotional responses in all contexts, and thus what happens in the wider world can affect us in our homes.

And certainly there is an aspect of self control.

We can learn various tools to control and subvert urges and emotions, and very few people actually master such disciplines. I have even seen anger escape into the facial features of the Dalai Lama for a few fractions of a second, and he is one of the most skilled practitioners of self control on the planet. Most people don’t get anywhere near that.

So for most people, for the foreseeable future, the most powerful way to work towards reducing domestic violence is to reduce the many levels of systemic threat present in our social systems, and to deliver to every person a sense of security and of justice and of self worth and community belonging.

And some habits, personal and cultural, will take longer than others to change.

Even in New Zealand, the first country on the planet to give women the vote, about half the men still retain cultural values that women are inferior (not simply different by a smallish degree on average – which says nothing about any aspect of any person in particular).
So some ideas are slow to change, and rapid change can happen if there is real change of context.

While the systems within which we live are as unfair as they are, rapid change of domestic behavior is unlikely. Slow improvement certainly, with awareness, but our legal systems often work against real progress, as they force people to follow rules rather than use their intelligence to work out what is actually likely to be most beneficial in that specific situation.

And certainly, we can all make a difference by speaking out, and particularly by working with children.
I was involved in a church sponsored anti-bullying campaign last year, even though I am an atheist, I rank human life and human compassion way above any specific set of beliefs.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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