Thinking About . . .

How We Think About Spiritual Violence

In today’s world, much attention is given to “physical violence.”  We see physical violence as a part of what actually happens in today’s world, in our cities and neighborhoods, and within our relationships and our families.

With so much attention given to “physical violence”, it is amazing to me that we do not give more attention to “spiritual violence”, i.e. our experience of those things that “do violence” to our spirit.

Let me illustrate this with a story:

Thirty-five years ago, I taught “parenting” classes through the Evergreen Child Development Institute. It’s hard to believe it, but at that time most people thought that it was “impossible” to teach “parenting skills.”  They typically said: “Parenting is a natural thing. It is simply something that you just do, so there is “no way” that a person could increase their “skill” in parenting.

Today, we are at the same place with “spiritual violence.”

Today most people assume that while we may experience “something” that does violence to our spirit – that this is a natural sort of thing — and that there is “nothing” that we can do about it!

That is to say, “There is really nothing we can possibly learn; there is “no way” that we can become “more skilled” in dealing those things that are”doing violence” to our  spirit. Many people truly believe there is “no way” that we can increase our “skills” in relating to those things that “do violence” to our spirit.”

Of course, we do not agree with this assumption. And, it may be that this is, in many ways, a dangerous and misinformed assumption.

Why Study Spiritual Violence?

The study of spiritual violence is important because the experience of “spiritual violence” is at the root of most physical violence in the world. You might say the experience of spiritual violence is “behind” most physical violence in the world today.

Further, the study of spiritual violence may help us discover positive ways of dramatically increasing the quality of our life, and/or perhaps improving the quality of our physical health.

Our Patterns

As people, a “key question” we can ask ourselves: What do we do with our experience of spiritual violence: Do we try to understand our experience by looking outside of our selves (external things), or, do we look within our selves (internal)?

We may blame ourselves or blame other people. What is our pattern?

Often we stay “inside the box” —and remain loyal to the ASSUMPTION that our experience of something”doing violence to our spirit” as something that “just happens.”  In so doing, we often maintain the belief that it is NOT POSSIBLE for us learn how to deal more effectively (skillfully and/or practically) with the spiritual violence we experience in our lives.

 The Need for Research/Investigation

The relationship of “spiritual violence” to physical violence is something that is very important.  It is critical that we develop a deep understanding of “spiritual violence” in order for us to more fully understand the complexity and the factors that are result in the various forms of physical violence.

We need to move beyond simply placing moral categories on the different types of physical violence. For us to really understand the best ways to respond to physical violence; the best ways to prevent physical violence — it is essential that we develop a better understanding of “spiritual violence.”

Rather than creating a stigma around the notion of “spiritual violence” and/or viewing people who are aware of things doing violence to their spirit – as unhealthy, or un-evolved, we need to find ways for people to more calmly and honestly accept this kind of experience as a normal, if ubiquitous, part of the human experience.