Violence in Our Schools & Society?

Michael Foster, M.A.


There was another recent article on how the result of building women's shelters for safety of the woman from abuse, produced unexpected results.  The rate of women killed in their relationships stayed about the same. The number of men killed, had a dramatic drop. Perhaps when we are ready to build men's shelters, that will signal a change in our consciousness. That will make it OK for men to get out of the violence triangle cycle for a while, like it is OK for women to get out of the violence triangle for a while. Perhaps more men will go there and less women will be killed. Perhaps when the shelters start teaching FACT's, Forgiveness, Acceptance, Consciousness, and Teamworking, the violence in our society will go down.  Also check out what someone else found out about women and men violence here. [Husband Abuse] is another article on the fact that males are as much at risk as females. We need Battered Men shelters as much as we need Battered Women shelters. Our society plays the blame game and has a myth that only females are the victims and turns a blind eye when that is not the case. Recovery starts when we see reality as it is and we avoid recovery as long as we participate in the victim mentality.

How can we resolve some of the violence in our schools? The question is better stated as:  "How can we resolve some of the violence in us, so that there is less violence in our schools?"  How can we do something responsible that will make a difference now.

Someone cuts us off in traffic, and we upset ourselves.  We do not make the light for three times, and we upset ourselves.  They call it road rage these days.  Someone drops a glass of milk, and we upset ourselves.  Someone calls us a name, and we upset ourselves.  The other team wins, and we upset ourselves.  Someone else gets that position at work, and we upset ourselves.  Our politician speaks out on something we disagree with, and we upset ourselves.  Our news media shows us something else wrong, and we upset ourselves.  We disagree about how to spend and save our money, and we upset ourselves.  We upset ourselves, because we let someone take advantage of us.  We upset ourselves, because someone disagreed with us.  Our news media shows us something else terrible happened again, and we upset ourselves again.  Someone bumps us, and we upset ourselves.  Our significant other pays too much attention to someone else, and we upset ourselves.  The waiter brings us the wrong food, and we upset ourselves.  The show we wanted to see is all sold out or changed schedule, and we upset ourselves.  We get a poor grade, and we upset ourselves.  We get a ticket, and we upset ourselves.  We do not understand something, and we upset ourselves.  Someone does or says anything, and some of us will upset ourselves about that.  Our long term upsets make us ill, and we upset ourselves about our illness.

We could have laughed.  We could have cried.  That is what enlightened people do, and then they go on to change themselves.  That is what really changes things.

Sometimes we suppress our upset.  Sometimes we stuff our upset into our unconscious baggage.  What do you imagine the collective effect of so much unresolved upset in all of us is?  What if, our collective unresolved upsets is being transmitted, until it is resolved?  What if, there are sensitive receivers among us that resolve some of that upset for us? What if, what we get to see on the nightly news is some of our collective upsets being resolved?  What if, this process will not change, until many of us are resolving more of our upsets in ourselves?

These are universal experiences, that we see and experience.  We are peaceful most of the time, until someone pulls our sensitive triggers, or lays on that last straw, or scratches our thin skin, or pushes our buttons.  The events trigger anxiety, anger, rage in us, that we often did not know we had.  Our upset can result in violence.  We may believe we "should" not get upset, and then get upset at ourselves, for getting upset.

How can we resolve more upsets in ourselves?  I am just going to list some of the many new habits we can learn that will resolve some of our upsets.  Each is a paper by itself.  Self forgiveness, other forgiveness, God forgiveness, let go & let God, restoration at an altar, intend to resolve, improving awareness, listening & questioning skills, improving understanding, taking responsibility, owning projections, 12 steps, archetype transformation, finding a temporary teacher, assertiveness, taking actions, unconditional loving, laughing and crying, self understanding, do your grieving, stop controlling, and on and on.

Violence in our schools has made the news lately.  Of course, peace in our schools is not likely to make the news very often.  Actually, there is more times of peace than violence in our schools and in our world.  It is just that the violence shocks us, into finding better ways.

What can each of us do, to reduce violence in our schools?  One way to consider this question, is to look at what some others have done to reduce violence on our planet.  There was Jesus, a king of kings, that did not choose to declare himself king and gather his armies to subdue the kingdoms of this world.  Instead, he choose to take on the violence of the world on himself, to give us access to his peace and wisdom today.  There was another leader, Mahatma Gandhi, that did not choose to take back his country from the British by violence, but by non violent assertion of their rights of self determination.  There was another king, Martin Luther King, that choose to stand up for the human and constitutional rights of all of us, by assertive and non violent means.  I knew someone that in the pre civil rights days came to their nation's capital and found that the phone book had ads for "whites only" places to stay.  They had raised their right hand and swore to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States.  This was not in agreement with that constitution. They choose to peacefully go to a non whites only place to stay, as their prayer of action, for positive change.  Choosing the assertive non violent demonstration of what we want, is our most powerful prayer.

Usually, few of the suggested solutions to violence are of a peaceful nature.  Such as, "Let there be more peace, and let more of that peace begin with me."  Why is that hard?  That is hard because we do not want to take responsibility for the atmosphere of violence, that we consciously and unconsciously create.

It is funny, but most popular solutions to violence, advocate more violence and control.  Most of the solutions that we hear and read, are really of a violent or negative nature.  The violent solutions are things like "lock them up," "fix them," "sic a therapist on them," "turn them into the police," "make the schools an armed camp to protect them," "take all their guns away," "let's tell them what and how to teach," etc.  These solutions are just another indication of what the real problem is.  Violence in ourselves, violence in me, that is projected onto "them".  I am not suggesting to not try some band aids.  I am just suggesting doing some other things that make a bigger difference and will change the directions we are going.

In the past, I did not know the amount of terror, fear and anxiety that came from unconscious stuff within me.  I got to see all of them, as I went through my past recovery processes.  I was unconscious of the amount of my rage, but I was influenced by this unconscious rage.  That is why, I now really believe that everyone is doing the best they can, with what they are conscious of.  Before, you had to push me pretty far, to get me to let my rage out.  Now I am more aware of more subtle emotions.  That does not mean that I could not be pushed into rage, it just means that I would tend to take actions earlier.  I would take actions earlier, since I am more sensitive and I may not need to get to the rage stage as much.  I do not know how much violence I have left, because by definition, I do not know what I am unconscious of, any more than you do.

In addition to letting more peace begin with me, I am advocating letting more peace also begin in our schools, in our homes, and in our workplaces.  I am writing about how more peace can begin anywhere.  Others have considered this challenge to our peace in great depth.  They have written books, trained people, shown the way.  I am just helping by showing that there are peaceful, non violent, solutions already out there.

Anger and fear are drivers of violence and most schools are coercive.  That triggers fear and anger.  In fact much of our culture is coercive, from the home to the workplace to play.  An example of some good healing processes for schools has been documented in William Glasser, M.D.'s books The Quality School, Managing Students Without Coercion and The Quality School Teacher  and Schools Without Failure by Dr. William Glasser, M.D.  Bill has a set of solutions for the public school system, when the parents, public, and principals are ready to listen.  The system is the problem and the system is easy to change.  These system changes are also solutions for businesses, homes, churches, communes, etc.  The fundamentals work everywhere, they are really used.  The home school system could benefit greatly from the same books.  I wish them all well   His processes are already working in some schools.  It would also be most helpful for the parents to work in non coercive workplaces, and even our government by using the same techniques.

"Government big enough to supply everything you need, is big enough to take everything you have ...  The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases."  "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.  The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government."  Thomas Jefferson.  Freedom is not free, as these quotes I saw, recently tell us.

There can be worse things than guns.  Guns are just a symptom of our fears.  The issue is fear, anger, rage and how to transform them from the blame game to loving living.  Then guns or governments are not dangerous to our health, wealth, and pursuit of happiness.  In fact controlling guns or anything else will not change anything at all, the violence will just show up in many different forms.  In fact, one of the forms it shows up in is attempts to control others and "their" guns. There is something more powerful than guns, as we saw when people behind the iron curtain just stood there with their lighted candles.  They made up their minds to change.

What we need to change is us.  Every change we make as individuals, makes a difference.  Every change we influence groups to make creates many other changes.  When we are we willing as individuals to find our peace and let our peace spread, every thing improves.

CNN reported on line on 21 May 1998 on a Mayo Clinic study.  The study found that the most effective way to protect our young people was to have parents and schools involved in their lives with open communications.  This involvement was with closeness to everyone, where the students were feeling loved, wanted and cared about and treated fairly.  This is what Dr. Glasser had advocated for years in his other books, loving involvement and sometimes tough loving involvement.  The study also noted that kids that had problems, did not have the problems for life.  There was a correlation between parents using alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and drugs and their use by kids.  Easy access to firearms was associated with violent acts and suicidal thoughts.  The problem was easy access along with their unresolved angers.

JC is at one end of our spectrum of humanity. An Anti Christ like Hitler, was at the other end of our spectrum of humanity. It reminds me of the spectrum from Heaven to Hell. At the part of our spectrum where the Christ can more easily be awakened within us, it works to have a Gandhi or Dr. King remind us of our own inner Christ. It worked in India where the British were enough in touch with our inner Christ aspect of our humanity to let go of India. It worked in the United States because the American people were enough in touch with our inner Christ part of humanity to start our process of letting go of some of the hate of racism. We are still in that process.  It would not have worked to have had a Gandhi or Dr. King in Germany, Austria, Poland, etc. Then, an angry Germany was on the move to gain territory and get back at those that punished them economically after World War I.  It may have worked better at the first aggression to have done the equivalent of sending in the world's Marines then. You see, it depends on the consciousness of those that we are dealing with. The German people were too angry to be in touch with their inner Christ and were more in touch with their inner Anti Christ. From what I know so far, it would have been wiser to send in the Marines than the Missionaries, to contain them like Russia, until they came to their senses.

Now, what would be a wise mission today for the Marines. In Iraq with the first Bush, it would have been wiser to have captured their leader and had a fair trial. Capturing Japan and Germany and then assisting in their recovery was one of the wisest thing we have done.  Our world has helped the Albanians and Afghans by arming the Afghans and helping the Albanians directly.  In the cases of Korea and Tibet there was a difference. The dragon of China was too large to take on directly, just like Russia was. They needed to be contained, until they came to their senses, their sense of the positive part of their humanity.  We had enough patience back then.  What do we have now? 

Unfortunately the Dali Lama did not have any Marines, or us, or any strategy but peace for dealing with those that had temporarily forgotten their inner Christ. They could have abandoned their land in mass and all become refugees. China would have been branded as the worst aggressor. This is like an aikido move of backing away and neutralizing them using their own momentum against themselves. Sort of like abandoning the field of battle and going to a shelter to let the authorities sort things out.  As it is turning out the Dali Lama has had a positive influence on the rest of the world and the new generation of Chinese have began to be interested in paths of peace in Tibet. 

So, what does this have to do with domestic violence? Just that it depends on who you are dealing with. Anger is our fundamental problem and Forgiveness, Acceptance, Consciousness, and Teamworking [FACT] are are our fundamental remedies. The best we can do is enter into a relationship and negotiate a plan, just like in Reality Therapy. When they are able to contain their aggression, there is time to learn about FACT's. When they are not able to contain their aggression, we might have to send in the Marines, and teach FACT's later. Or provide shelters for both men and women.  In the mean time, any part of the system, willing to learn FACT's, will grow stronger, until they do not need any Marines.

We hear and see too much negative news about violence that we are addicted to.  We do not hear the news about peace.  Often when we hear about violence we do not hear that the rate of violence is going down.  We hear and see more about the problems than the solutions.  We get more of what we focus on, violence.  What would happen, if there was a cry for more counselors in schools, instead of more laws?  What would happen, if there was a cry for paying and training our teachers better?  I know this would attract more men into the teaching profession, to be better examples to our kids?

Someone wrote me, that JC did not mean to forgive someone, of greater power. They thought that sexual or domestic violence could not be forgiven, until there was equal power. That is, the abuser must be stripped of power and or the victim must be raised in power. There is a good thought in there, about equality of power, but they have mistaken earthly power for spiritual power. They also noted that some churches support a disparity of power, to maintain their positions and power. Also sometimes true, but again this is only about earthly power.

When they consider this some more later they may realize that they are saying that they could not forgive God, because He has more power than they do. Again, they may fall into the same trap of confusing earthly power with spiritual power. God has infinite spiritual power and only earthly influence. The only earthly power God really has is when we let his love and forgiveness flow through us.  What is flowing is spiritual power, not earthly power which is a lesser power.

So, let us consider spiritual power. God forgave everyone.  God atoned for everyone. So, spiritual power is gained by coming into agreement with God, accepting His atonement and by giving His forgiveness and atonement.   When it appears that abusers have more power than their victims, they only have earthly power. When the victims forgive their abusers and themselves, they gain spiritual power. They become spiritually equal to their abusers and no longer need to attract abusers or play the victim. The nature of spiritual power is not to lord it over others, it is to be equal with others. The nature of earthly power is to lord it over others and create violence.

In the first place, there is some level of domestic violence in any family. It may be at the subtle level. That may be worse, because then it is harder to overcome. It may be at the gross level or any where in between.

In any domestic violence case, it is a difficult situation. Any of what I have found to work with myself or others is not always easy. The long range health of the system depends on some fundamentals. The first part of recovery is for any part of the system learning how to forgive and restore their real power. Someone wrote how saying the acceptance or forgiveness ritual for her customer and how this helped her customer illustrates how much power the forgiving one has in a system. The second part of recovery is going to be even more strange to those that were taught to blame and get even. This is where we actively pray for who ever is playing the part of any recovering abusing person. This psychologically sound technique comes from both the old and new testaments of the Bible that gives the wisdom of loving our "enemies". There are many sources that say the same essence. A generic prayer for their health, wealth, and happiness for the highest good of all concerned would be safe. I wanted health, wealth, and happiness for any of the "bullies" I ran into. Not only are we then praying for our "abuser", but we are also telling the "abuser" part of ourselves that we have compassion for those that abuse us.

So, we are all responsible for the amount of violence in our culture, in our country and in our world.  The good news is that we can reduce the violence in us, by learning how to transform our own anxiety, upset, anger, rage, etc.  We can reduce violence by learning how to forgive, understand, love, have compassion, wisdom and be less unconscious.  The good news is, that we can work on influencing our schools to adopt wisdom like in "The Quality School, Managing Students Without Coercion."  I am not writing that this is the only way.  Although he incorporates many of the good ideas I have seen elsewhere.  When you are interested in the details, you will have to get this book to find the good ideas there for yourself.  I am just using an example of a way that will work.  There are many other ways within all of you, when you learn how to let them out by the same transformations.  The good news is that we can do our parts in making our homes and places of work and play, quality places.  It is not that we can not do it, it is that we can, when we consciously decide to do it.  We already have, what we all decided to consciously and unconsciously create so far.

Michael Foster is available for consulting on work teams and individuals on their recovery and improvement processes and to give presentations to community groups on improving team working, improving prayer and improving our lives and on recovering from shyness and bipolar illnesses.


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