Have you noticed a spike in violence everywhere around us? In every form. From how we resolve our differences driving in the street to bullying, and from racist to sports-related and domestic violence, it is a phenomenon that seems to be growing to uncontrollable proportions.
What’s to blame? Obviously the tribulations of the last decade, the pandemic coming on top of the economic crisis, making people crazy. It is too early to measure the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health, but I’m sure it won’t be good.
Violence, as Hannah Arendt wrote, has become banal; it has become routine, and that is very, very dangerous. A society that is cynical and exhausted treats violence like something inevitable and incurable.
The language we use is also violent and many of us have become more aggressive in the way we express ourselves. Angry and addled citizens sit at their keyboards every day cursing and then go on social media to curse some more. It’s a conduit for their despair. Politicians are also to blame for legitimizing violence as a means of protest and allowing it to dominate a part of public discourse.
But what are we doing about it? We’re talking about it for starters, because it is so often swept under the carpet. We need more information and conversation. But we also need a safety net for the victims of violence. Women who are subjected to it at home and victims of bullying need to know where they can get help and that they will have the support of well-trained and sympathetic experts. The new generation has made incredible progress in such matters.
A part of the effort to staunch violence is also about changing mentalities among the state and judicial authorities. “It was just a slap” needs to be rooted out. Zero tolerance for violence, in any form, should be the end goal.
When I was asked what we can do in terms of communication, my first thought was that we need to strip violence of whatever cool factor is may hold for some, of its machismo. We need to convey the message that violence is what cowards resort to. The phenomenon will not go away and society will not be treated for the causes that breed violence. But the least we can do is acknowledge that it’s a problem and start talking about it. Before we have another Alkis, Eleni or Caroline.