Thoughts on Violence

I shared this some time ago and feel it is important in today’s world.

Here we go again. War in the Middle East. Russia, Iran, and North Korea all warn of nuclear war with the U.S. Many in our government say we should strike first or we in the U.S. will certainly be wiped out. What to do.

Right after the bombing of the World Trade Towers on 9/11, I was very upset about all that had or could transpire. So I wrote my feelings down. I reprint them now, as I feel they are pertinent to what is happening today. I speak as a martial arts instructor.

Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art. That is a fact. When most people think of martial arts, their minds flow to all the movies that are popular today where senseless killings and acts of violence are common. Those of us involved in the martial arts know that is a completely distorted view. The ultimate goal of any martial art is self-defense – keeping others and ourselves free from harm. How this is done varies from art to art. I can only speak with authority about Tai Chi Chuan.

It is my personal goal to live a life of peace and harmony – to do no harm to other people and things on this planet. More than that, I want to leave this planet a better place because I have lived my life. This is the over-riding guiding principle of my existence. I started my studies of Tai Chi because I needed help. My life was out of control. I found improved health and well being as I learned and practiced Tai Chi. I didn’t know at that time that Tai Chi was a martial art, or I might not have started. I had the common misconceptions about martial arts, thinking my peaceful desires of the 1960s would be compromised. Fighting was the last thing I wanted anything to do with, blessing my lucky stars I had gotten out of the Viet Nam war.

As my studies of Tai Chi increased, I learned the history and philosophy of this art, and by that time, was so deeply involved that nothing could shake me loose. And best of all, I found out that the martial aspects of Tai Chi blended perfectly with my own philosophy.

My understanding of Tai Chi as a martial art is to do the least harm to an opponent while maintaining a control of the situation. Keep the other person or persons from hurting others, or me, and at the same time, not hurting him or them. This is so difficult to do on both a physical and an emotional level. But I don’t want that to stop me from trying.

As I write this, it is a week after the World Trade Towers were bombed. There is much talk about war and revenge. Of course, that is to be expected. I am so sad and angry at this event. So many innocent people have lost their lives, and the survivors will never be the same. There is hate, distrust, and cries for blood from every corner. I can understand this whole-heartedly. Yet I know it will not help in the long run to act out in the manner being discussed right now – for the U.S. to use any and all measures to root out terrorists wherever they exist. I know what that means. Many more innocent people will die.

I am not wise enough to know how to deal with this situation. In my heart, I feel that love and understanding will be the necessary tools to overcome the dark forces. We as a society must discourage evil and wrong doing by example. In this country we do not kill those with mental illness. We try to help them. If we think of ourselves as a sane society, we must do all in or capacity to help those in need to feel good about themselves, to help all people see that they are valuable and can contribute to the betterment of mankind. I truly feel that all of us are born with a loving nature and a desire to love and be loved. Suicide bombers are recruited because they think they will be loved by God for all eternity if they do as they are instructed by the people in authority.

Tai Chi has taught me that fear, hate, anger, all breed tension and tension is easily overcome by relaxation. A clear mind, free from these emotions, can see the situation and react accordingly. A person who overcomes his enemy with love in his heart will gain the respect of those he has conquered. So let’s work on clearing ourselves by meditating, strengthening the body with exercise, studying the teaching of non-violent philosophers, and doubling our efforts to bring peace and harmony to our families, communities and the world.