How I became a violent person

April 22, 2015 9:00 am

I thought I might interest you guys into something different other than a political rant. This is a piece in which I talk about my discovery as to how I almost naturally – yet unintentionally – contribute to the problems of the world. Although I like to believe I am a nice guy, I have made an attempt to understand my subconscious behaviour that makes me prejudiced and fucked up on so many levels. It turns out, that I am completely conditioned at the deepest level.

Before I continue with what I am about to say let me make clear, that this is not going to be some completely self-depreciating, self-effacing post. Despite my conditioned state, I still acknowledge that there exist many virtues within me that are worth talking about. But  I believe in dealing with our flaws as well as focusing on what is amazing about us all. Hence why I will discuss these flaws in detail and as to why I think it is relative to global problems.

The last 6 months in Cape Town has pushed me into this slow-grinding self-realisation process that I exhibit thoughts which make me instantly put all sorts of barriers in front of people before I meet them. Its not just based on race, gender, religion sexuality, and so forth. There is rather a mountainous heap of labels – which are effectively the umbrella for irrational stereotypes – that I associate to people on a subconscious level as they walk past me. I judge them by their skin colour, gender, hair, facial features, body features, attractiveness levels, hats, clothes, shoes, the colour of their clothes and shoes, their nails, how well looked after their are. Every variety of combinations within these categories draws to me make a ridiculous assumption of the person thereby putting them in some box. When I approach the person to speak to them I open a further can of worms by boxing them according to their accents, their tone of voice, their body language: this would allow to me make some alterations to my initial judgments of the person, and then start adding a ton of more irrational stereotypes to attach to this person depending on the initial shit they say, and putting them in even more boxes. The nuances in my ‘judge-mentality’’ is quite insane when well observed. This in turn not only affects what I say to people, but it also shaped my body language without giving it a real thought. My conversations are covertly structured around these stereotypes and my body language is revealing the deceit of my conscious speech.

My divisive thinking is portraying micro-aggressions – violence in its root form. By placing these giant barriers in front of people, I am making it difficult for myself to see the common humanity in this person, that they too despite their different life experiences, have dreams, passions, ideas, thoughts, about shit.

So basically asides from being a rampant racist, sexist, ageist, homophobe, I discriminate on so many levels. I assign labels to people on a rampant and habitual scale. Labels of course are not intrinsically good or bad, but in today’s world they have connotations which are stupifyingly irrational. Labels, when taking away their irrationality are necessary in helping us to understand a very complex society and simplifying it. Judging is also completely natural, its not judging that is the issue, but its the information that we draw on to judge people, and the rate at which we make use of it.

For instance there’s nothing wrong with the labels ‘white’ man or ‘black’ man – although being a colonial invention to justify slavery – but in today’s world even these labels carry irrational stereotypes.  My failure to instantly look past somebody’s skin colour will mean I instantaneously start running through a plethora of stereotypes attached to that skin colour. ‘Black’ man makes me think about crime, aids, racism, struggle, poverty, promiscuousness, big dicks (:-)). ‘White’ man makes me think about privilege, racism, power, oppression, not-so-promiscuous and average dicks. Now let’s say I saw that Black man in a dazzling suit, tie and a briefcase, so now I add the label of ”rich’ which makes me think about indifference to the poor; exploitation; a ruthless business-like mentality; probably couldn’t give a fuck about the negative impact of capitalism. Added to that would be my surprise of seeing a black man in that position, as if a position of power is not his natural role. Now think about a short white man, wearing a hoodie with a crippling case of acne. The most obvious labels here are ‘short’ and ‘white’ the not so obvious labels would probably be ‘underclass’ due to his un-keptness and the fact he is wearing a hoodie. If he is sporting a grimace on his face and his body language is aggressive, I might even add ‘short man syndrome’, ‘untrustworthiness’, or ‘grumpy cunt’.

The problem with our poisoned labels is the rate of its perpetuation and most importantly our reliance on these labels. What it signifies is that we identify with labels first and foremost, and their ‘humanness’ comes last. Of course I always say ‘that’s bullshit, I see them all as humans’ but unconscious thoughts suggest that I am a complete liar, and that actually is one thing that I can say is the truth.

If they’re so stupid, then why do I do it? It’s all mostly subconscious, done in micro-seconds. Of course I don’t wish to absolve myself of complete responsibility of swallowing this crap. After all it was the conscious decision I took as a child to carry on living in a part of the world where rampant social conditioning drills us into interacting with society with such labels; Which in turn has left me somewhat unconsciously distanced from many humans based on skin colour, nationality, religion, sexuality, gender, all labels that we don’t need. Of course I challenged this at a conscious level, and so assumed that I wasn’t a complete prick. But I failed to understand exactly how it affected my thoughts in the deepest sense.

Neither did I understand the ramifications of constructing my-self identity around these labels that this world has educated me to accept. Not only have I distanced myself from others I have distanced myself from understanding who I truly am beneath all these labels that I assigned even to myself. In fact accepting these labels is not even a choice that is given to us. In order for me to reject it, I had to be aware of it. Being aware of it, is not an option. Simply because being aware of this choice and rebelling against it is the biggest threat to our current global power structures.

I think the corrosiveness of labels and our readiness to use them can be described as the most abstract form of violence. Violence on a physical scale is only just a small part of violence that we commit when we couple it with psychological violence. On a psychological scale we do monumental damage mainly because physical violence has its roots in our minds. The biggest problem with labels in the modern age, is that the divisiveness it creates perpetuates an ‘us and them’ binary. The more we get used to such binaries, the more we try to rationalise why ‘we’ are better than ‘them’. This is what leads to dehumanisation. Dehumanisation creates room to justify violence by saying ‘we’ are ‘better’ than ‘them”. From ”we” are ‘more” human to ”them”, we lead to “we” are human and ”they” are not – it grants the ultimate legitimacy for violence against people. Every conflict, international wars, civil wars, even the noblest of human rights struggles perpetuates an us v them binary. The biggest binary of the 20th century was ‘capitalism’ v ‘communism’. Almost all global wars, on an international scale and domestic scale – Angola, South Africa, Cambodia, Vietnam, cuba, Venezuela, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chila, India/pakistan, DRC, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Iraq/Iran, Egypt, Palestine – were dictated by the torchbearers of the two dominant ideologies – Russia and US, despite the fact that some of these struggles may have been tribal, racial, cultural at a more local level.

fist violence

Before you say anything, I am not building this up to be an attack on mainstream media. I am not blaming this on those who run media empires, or war mongerering governments. I am not saying some old powerful men meet up once a week in some secret cellar to find hideous ways to control the world and keep us apart. Dividing society has become a historical process and we’ve made it appear natural and necessary. Ever since the earliest tribal fiefdoms, we’ve become adept at dividing people further and further. As a collective species we are to blame for leaving this process unchecked, and conforming with it. All of us are born in an environment that is insanely divisive and we are trained to accept it. Same goes for the Hitlers, Bush’s, Netanyahus of the world. Divisiveness permeates through our culture, in our media, our arts, education, music, hollywood, bollywood, literature and so forth. We do have a choice to reject this environment, but to reject it we have to be aware that we have the choice to do so. The truth is that choice has not been made fully aware of us. Most importantly if we do reject it how do we struggle against it. How do we challenge labels?

Perhaps the answer is to tear away its stereotypes and show there is a human beneath this label. Give the label more human-affirming connotations while keeping in tact the recognition of our many differences. People do this today. Take example anti-racist activists on stereotypes of black people and arabs. Poetry and humour has been tackling racial labels increasingly in the last decade. But the struggle to cleanse the label of ‘black’ man/woman and ‘brown’ man/woman, has led to inadvertant demonization of ‘whiteness’, which we unwittingly participate in. With my experience with anti-racist activists I can’t help but a feel automatic negative sentiments towards even the sound of the term ‘white’ people. So do I. We can’t be blamed given the history of oppression of non-white people and institutionalised priviliges for people with white skin. But our struggles will only be truly successful when all labels are turned on their heads and their connotations are completely transformed. Until then, human struggles will carry on in that same beaten track.

This is more than just racial labels. Think more of the less mainstream stereotyping. How we label fat people, skinny people, attractive, ugly, working class, rich, goths, artists. Now one could argue that some of them carry positive stereotypes, but the positive stereotypes come at the expense of other labels. Youth has positive connotations whereas old age is something undesirable precisely because of youth worship.

Of course my observations are subjective. Even if they have validity on an objective scale, then one must take into consideration, how people stereotype in other cultures. That’s one thing I would like to look into further, but given the scale of violence we see on a global scale I find it hard to believe that divisiveness through perpetuation of labels do not persist in other cultures.

My observations here could be wrong. I might even be missing something key in my analysis. However something inside tells me that i’m not wrong, that I have hit the spot as to why despite struggle after struggle, we still live in a volatile world. The issue becomes how to transform this volatile world. I think it starts with looking at ourselves and try to understand how much our words and our rhetoric betrays our humanism.

I would welcome your thoughts on what I said, and I have no problems with constructive criticism. Before you criticise me I would advise everybody just to take out at least an hour of their time and just observe people. Be extremely conscious of the thoughts bubbling in your head. Go to talk people and try to be conscious of what your mind is saying. In fact i can bet you any money with the labels i mentioned in this blog, your mind immediately triggered all sorts of stereotypes, without you giving much conscious thought. This is probably because you were so concerned with the overall message of my blog. I am  also not saying that we are all innately evil. As flawed as we are, we all have an inner beauty within us all. But the potential of that inner beauty is inhibited by our flaws, and our lack of awareness of the depth of these flaws. For example we know how to love, but we don’t yet know how to love everybody.

My intention is not to come across as patronising in my post. Maybe there are people that buck the trend in what I am saying, but they are a rare breed. These rare breed also include people who remain unconquered by mainstream society, such as indigenous tribes, villagers in remote areas, or any unfortunate child who was abandoned in a jungle and was raised by lions. Jokes aside, my intentions are not to offend, its solely born out of my passion to look for a lasting solution for our world’s problems and I would like to do further research on this, so like I said your opinions are valuable on this topic and can help me make a better assessment.

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