Violence lost, passive aggressive won

Mr Satan believes in violenceWhat does violence look like in a passive aggressive culture?

It is commonly understood that violence is a bad thing. I disagree. I think violence is all around us, and that it in itself isn’t a bad thing.

What’s toxic is when bullying is combined with violence. Mugging someone to steal their purse or wallet is bad. Punching a friend in the face can be good. Context has to matter with something so sweeping.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines violence as:

The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.

Their definition makes it sound terrible, and I’m glad it is declining worldwide. But, is passive aggressive conflict rising to take its place? And, is it politically correct of me to ask?

As the mighty Vegeta said:

It will take more than head games to stop me. You may have invaded my mind and my body, but there is one thing a Saiyan always keeps. HIS PRIDE!

The novel (Destiny’s Hand) I’m working on takes place in a future setting far advanced down a path of non-violence. This does not mean life in it is fair or healthy. For better and worse, a passive aggressive culture won and rules.

A slap can be very honest.

Tyrion Slaps Joffrey, Game of ThronesA strike across the face can even be beautiful, an expression of love and friendship.

I broke my hand on my friend’s head after he asked me to punch him. We kept sparring, and I learned about the boxer’s fracture.

This was violence. It certainly was stupid, but I don’t think it was inherently bad. It is a part of our culture to be physical from time to time.

Should WHO’s definition exclude consensual violence, such as boxing?

Spank him. He’s being bad.

As a parent, I approve of physical punishment used sparingly and never when angry. It should be about surprise and maybe a little pain or embarrassment, but never damage. It should always be coupled with an explanation and only after a failed communication.

Sparingly with consistent communication, that’s the goal. But, it’s hard. Parenting is work. None of us are perfect at it. Writing about this has me thinking about spankings I didn’t have to give, a knuckle on the head I could have avoided.

Hats and a tractorI think hats are key to minimizing a potential need for corporal punishment. I can tug on his hat to get his attention and momentum where he needs to go. I can pull it over his eyes if he’s being bad, or even take it away from him if he’s being very bad. And with my own hat if he’s about to walk into a busy street, instead of grabbing an arm or ear, I can just drop it on his head for extra grip and steering control.

I’ve got to reap what I sow.

I’ve said before that “I choose friendship” with my son at the expense of some respect. For discipline I’ve got to expect a little more resistance to my authority and roll with it.

The culture is shifting such that in a decade or so the U.S. may join other countries in outlawing physical discipline. Certainly I am softer than my parents.

He has a second sword on his back, just in case.More importantly, I hope I am more patient and communicative than my parents were. I am also willing to reconsider my tactics. If something isn’t working, or if there seems to be a transference of violence I am willing to change how I parent.

Yuri is starting kindergarten this fall. It is not the sort of school that will tolerate violence of any kind (it’s in SE Portland).

He’s a tough kid that likes toys, fiction, and games that relate to violence.

    • Transformers punching, shooting, and even killing each other. He has the toys. They all have guns.
    • Ninjago with spinjitzu attacks or more recently Chima.Everything is awesome“. He has a box of legos. We build weapons.
    • At the park with sticks and grass. We fort up in a tree and defend or attack.
    • Wrestling. I have been attacked by him and four friends. Five four year old boys relentlessly trying drag me down like sabertooth tigers against a mammoth.

Violence is inescapable in popular culture.

My clown ninja of deathFirst person shooters are fun. This isn’t going to change. I will always play them. I will always enjoy virtually killing others, especially if I know them personally. My newest love, space ninjas.

Young adult (YA) books are very popular. When I peruse them, it seems like a fair number have seventeen year old female protagonists in a post apocalyptic setting with some kind of power or special ability related to being violent.

Even as our collective world culture moves away from inreal violence, virtual violence I think will dominate fiction and games in the foreseeable future.

This creates friction with apparent hypocrisy as we condemn physicality while embracing the virtual version. I think we should be more tolerant, less judgmental, and broaden the scope to see a greater context for situations. In this age of social media a snapshot or short video can cause a visceral reaction that promotes a knee jerk response. I’ve tried to take this to heart and not run with my gut feeling after viewing something.

Passive aggressive wins over direct physical violence.

I’m okay with Wikipedia’s “indirect expression of hostility” definition.

British humor is passive aggressive?

Passive aggressive can be evil, but it doesn’t have to be. Kind of like violence. Though juxtaposed it’s easy to frown at a kid kicking another and easy to miss subtle ostracization. Conversely it’s easy to laugh at British humor that’s dry and mocking, while hard to tell if two men rolling in the dirt are being friendly.

Nine years ago I put an ad on craigslist to start a fight club. We boxed a bit in the courtyard of my apartment complex before the landlord kicked us out. Then we grappled, kicked, and punched each other at the park kiddie corner to us until the local kids started interrupting too much. Since they were coming from a house that was occasionally shot up in drive-bys I canceled the club for lack of places to spar outside.

I wrote this around that time about this area.

Modern witch hunts in India remind that scapegoating and bullying are vile aspects of human nature. Claiming someone is a witch is an indirect attack. This I would call evil passive aggressiveness followed by vile violence.

Human Resources (HR) Department on a spaceship

Destiny’s Hand takes place on a generation ship. The culture of the ship has been skewed after several generations. A people with a non-violent culture and values based on truth have slowly become subjugated by a passive aggressive system enforced by their HR department.

An excerpt from my book:

“I did on another visit, but was caught and given an ethics lesson.” Katelle shivers as the woman continues, “In retrospect the lessons aren’t so bad, not compared to ethical training.” Katelle gasps, and Rouna adds, “I survived the later because I was still under twenty and considered redeemable, but it ruined my career chances… and cost me my son.”

In my setting facilitators are like Nottingham Sheriffs, and third personing is about interrogation rather than working through a conflict.

For Destiny’s Hand I fast forward the movement away from real world violence and how conflict is resolved in professional settings. I hope to poke fun at some hypocrisies in our current world as I show the tyrannical extremes in my fiction that resulted.

Ultimately I think a successful generation ship, like any other community, needs balance and accountability. This story and later stories on Ship Of Destiny will revolve around power struggles and attempts to achieve and maintain a healthier balance.

There will be some successes, but more failures in the thousand year journey. What’s most important is what will the last generation look like, the one that is intended to actually colonize. Presuming the ship and people survive, will this future community abhor violence? Will they enslave each other with passive aggressive chains for fear of physicality and loss of control? Or maybe something like what was intended by the initial social engineers of the ship?

“Be true,” they said, the masses of Pravidians as the shuttles left repressive Earth. I show with my stories how “true” their descendants are.

The shock of violence in a non violent setting.

Norway is a peaceful place, despite the attacks of 2011. I appreciate their focus on restorative justice and respect that they are civilized enough to not execute even such a horrible person.

I arranged for this interview about restorative justice. Gina had just recently gotten back from Norway where she had been reviewing their justice system.

I had recruited her to be a board member for the Portland Green Party as an advocate for the social justice and non-violence pillars.

I draw on my impression of Norway a bit for my story’s setting.

Line from first page of Destiny’s Hand:

He has become the rarest of crew, a murderer, a killer with his hands.

This first book, taking place in Ship Of Destiny, will have more passive aggressive conflicts than physical violence. I worry about how this sounds. I intend for this to be a story of intrigue and mystery more than sex and violence. When there is violence, it is visceral and I hope has great impact. I don’t intend to glorify it or hide from it. Its intensity is intended to change characters and hopefully suck readers in rather than throw them out.

This book is a gamble. I haven’t taken such a chance with a story before, and I’m spending more time on it than anything else I’ve done. Hopefully the rarity of violence and the extremes when it happens won’t scare people away.

It is a recipe. I’ve a knack for it, and I’ve worked hard. I’ll have many people sample, but ultimately I won’t know if it’s tasty until I release it and people buy it ($1.99, coming this November on Black Friday).

Leave a Reply