violence and nonviolence

Violence and Nonviolence

Violence is a problem that we as humans, deal with everyday. Today, it seems that
we deal with it in just about every aspect of our lives. From children’s cartoons to the
nightly news, we are witnesses to its power and harm. A highly debated argument for the
causes of violence are surrounding our homes as well as our government. No matter the
causes of violence or for that fact aggressors, we have a personal responsibility must be
taken for violent actions. We are given the choice to decide how we each want to live our
lives; but before we decide, we must look at the ethical issues that surround our choices.
Most humans strive to live a good, pure life. Violence is one of the few instances
that destroys that good life. It is something that we work towards eliminating. It is
defined as an act taken against another being with the intent to do harm. We often
consider violence in terms of the physical aggressor, yet violence can surface in a variety
of ways even including self-defense. Violence is a result of conflicting interests or
unresolvable differences. In most instances, both parties to he conflict feel that they are
right and that their actions are justified. However, there are other cases in which their is a
clear aggressor and victim. Nevertheless, violence is a very complicated and difficult
By its very nature, violence is an act against life. Life, is sacred. It is cherished,
not out of purpose of use, not instrumental, but for the good, intrinsic value of its very
being. Violence is instrumental. It is a means to an end. There is no intrinsical goodness
in violence. Violent acts are not good for the sake of violence itself.

A single question that arises out of the argument of violence and nonviolence, Is
violence ever justifiable or acceptable. The two main types of arguments that arise are the
self-defense paradigm and pacifism. The self-defense paradigm accepts violence as a
means to protect one’s life, or the life of others. This argument interprets life as being
intrinsically good and for instrumental purposes, but accepts lethal results as an unintended
consequence of defense. Pacifism argues that violence is never acceptable. Because
violence is an instrumental act, it undermines and disrespects human life as a cherished
Upon first evaluation of these arguments, I preferred the self-defense paradigm. I
believe I am more of a realist. I thought that violence was inevitable. No matter the
strategy, violence is going to be the end result. However, by the end of the semester, I
have discovered something. The whole purpose of pacifism is to change the fact that
violence is inevitable. It is a movement that teaches humans how to deal with the
situations that inevitably end in violence. It is a way to defend life from aggressive threats.
The pacifist may never risk killing his opponent, regardless of the consequences. At all
times, they must be respectful and compassionate of life.
I believe that I have changed my view because I have a greater understanding of
pacifism. At first, I thought that it was the easy way out. It was the way to take to avoid
a situation; “no matter the situation, never be violent.” I thought of issues such as wars or
if someone was trying to kill you or your family. How could someone not do anything? It
was a weak person’s answer to the argument. Then, out of the blue, it struck me. We are
always talking about “bettering” the world, getting rid of violence. Well, we are imitative
creatures. We do what we see. How are the younger generation of people going to be
nonviolent when all they see is violence. If, we don’t start demonstrating nonviolent,
peaceful acts, what are they going to imitate?

We are presenting self-defense as an excuse. It is justifiable but only if you don’t
intend to kill the other person. This can be a very risky situation. When defending
yourself or someone else, you are allowed violence as long as you didn’t mean to kill the
aggressor? What happens when you can’t decipher the aggressor? Nothing should be
taken away from the self-defense philosophy. It is understandable and ethical. It would
be hard not to defend yourself from an attacker, or to help a loved one. But, it just seems
to me that in today’s world, we must reevaluate our morals. Self-defense takes the idea
that life is intrinsically good and should never be violated.