Breaking the vicious circle of violence

The South Korean who murdered 32 students before killing himself in Virginia earlier this month had been studying literature. Among the plethora of articles written over the past few days about gun ownership, US society and the explosion of youth violence, one feature by a professor of creative writing was particularly interesting. The author had tried to construct a profile of the young killer from the half-finished dramas he had written. In the killer’s texts, the professor detected a Shakespearean range of themes, composed however in a ludicrous style more akin to a reality television show or hysterical rant. Fortunately, this professor eventually concluded that extreme writing does not necessarily presage extreme actions (such as the South Korean’s murder spree). Otherwise, this might set a precedent for the creation of a moral police force whose task would be to detect real motives in written accounts. At the same time, confining the diagnosis of the problem of violence to weapons possession narrows the scope of the problem. There is no doubt that the arms lobby in the USA is extremely influential, while statistics show that half of American households own a gun; but would a weapons ban solve the problem of violence? It would be easy to ban weapons and be done with the issue. But there are different kinds of weapons. In a new novel about the September 11 attacks, American author Don DeLillo explains that the body of a suicide bomber transforms into a lethal weapon when the explosives being carried are activated; minute body parts are propelled at such incredible speed that they penetrate the bodies of passers-by. If the body itself can be transformed into such a terrible weapon capable of wreaking death and destruction all around, would a ban on conventional weapons really be the solution to curbing violence? Perhaps this would simply create conditions that would further facilitate the operation of the black market, as has indeed been the case with everything from drugs to illegal bear hunting. When one considers the killings of the last few days, it is clear that any solution to the general problem does not require cutting-edge technology. Those who tortured and killed three people at a Christian publishing house in southeastern Turkey slit their victims’ throats with knives. And here in Greece, the killers of a young Panathinaikos soccer fan in a mass brawl last month used very primitive methods to put an end to his life, namely stabbing and beating. Only education can improve the current situation: the education of soccer fans, police officers, and most importantly the education of children and adolescents. If the young generation can learn to live in peace – spiritual and physical – in healthier families and healthier societies, then it will have a better chance than we have of breaking the vicious circle of violence.

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