Managing My Violence Non violently
Updated: Jul 13
"We become oblivious to the violence we wield, because we suppress the impact of the violence we experience. When we see or experience violence, we are expected to marginalize our internal witness and swallow our sensitivity in order to survive and move on with life.
According to Ana Rhodes, this dissociative act of silencing the impact of a traumatic event is the beginning of the normalization of violence.
Rhodes says that to recover the internal witness, we must create spaces in which we can tell the story of the impact that violence has/had on us.
We must also become people who can notice and express the impact of everyday aggression, violence, and abuse.
She calls this process of re-sensitization "waking up to the trance of violence." Otherwise, we continue to contribute to the cycle of oppression - even in our activism, even in our love."
The paragraphs above are from Laura Geiger... @feltshirt.theatre (Instagram)... and the rest of this post is my response to what came up for me when thinking this through... thanks for the thought provoking share Laura.
Our modernity is founded upon an assumption that violence… the threat of violence… maintains stability… I am for non violence… working towards that within myself and for others… and yet I perform acts of violence each and every day… even just in my own internal conversations around how inadequate… stupid… and incompetent I am… these conversations are built from the relationships I have been reared on in this violent modernity that colonises all of us in a constant game of power over other.
We self police around laws enforced through the threat of violence… imposed upon us before we were born… maybe we can shift this… if we can acknowledge that violence serves no useful purpose for anyone in touch with their own birth gifted self… maybe I can shift this… if I can create spaces in which I can tell the story of the impact that violence has upon me... this is an attempt to create that space.
Against power over other… I am aware of my power to… I have power to… make changes to those internal conversations… I have power to make conscious choices about how I manage my own complex… relational… emergence as a human being.
My being… in this world… leads to my being in relationship with place… this place… this here and now that is woven with barely visible threads… with all my pasts and all my futures… this moment here… is an enfolded entanglement of all I have been and all I may be-come… a ruptured re-pairing of the twisted flux of time… and place.
I recognise that I am able to become oblivious to the violence I wield… and I equally recognise that I suppress the impact of the violence I experience… it is practically difficult not to go down the suppression route… it is also practically impossible for me to live in any sense of true connection with self and other… in a state of oblivious suppression… the lid on this boiling copper must explode if left unattended... this oblivious suppression requires attention.
Paying attention… is the price of liberation… paying attention is difficult in a world full of distractions… around winning and losing… taking possession of and being dispossessed of… being home and being homeless… having the backing of state and being stateless… in a modernity based upon the supremacy of ownership… we have lost ownership of the truly valuable… and are only offered temporary solace for this loss… in the ownership of momentary distractions.
We have lost a sense of measure… measure… a word from… assess the importance, effect, or value of… being a unit of capacity… an ability to create boundaries.
Our units of measure have lost value… when a life is worth less than a financial gain… when many lives are worth less than the financial gain of a single individual… we are living in a world full of violence.
While to live in non violence offers the possibility of a re-turn to understanding how to measure… and for me... this looks like... measuring all as having capacity that is inestimable… beyond evaluation… opens up possibilities that are beyond my imagination… and yet feel within reach.
Maybe measure without evaluation is a jump off point here. Maybe equal measure is not where justice and truth lie… maybe equal is moving… fluid.. maybe when I drop evaluation… I drop a large chunk of the conditioning that has always used violence to restrain and limit me… excusing my cultural appropriation of the word… maybe the Yoruba sense of… ashe… fits here… not in it’s stolen sense of amen… but more in it’s sense of… the power to make things happen… to make change.
Our measure of what is a minor slight… an act of small carelessness… an off the cuff inconsiderate comment from a loved one… a sharing of an internal trauma in a situation where it lands roughly… with jagged edges… is skewed by the communities we exist in... as they are based upon the normalisation of violence… violence is everywhere we look… hear… feel… and forms our relationship with space... with self... with other.
This lands me in the place I was aiming for when I set off on this meandering and over wordy spillage of neural firings… I tell myself off for being too sensitive… I am told by others… friends and strangers that I am too sensitive… they say that hurts and harms are inevitable in this relational life… and as a result I should harden… I should grow a tougher skin… I should learn to deflect the blows and stand tall in the face of acts and actions that I feel… that I experience… as violent and damaging to my wholeness.
This feedback that I have collected over several decades... that I am at fault… I am not able to deal with the world the way it is… I need to change the ways I react to words and actions that leave me hurt and injured… has developed protective reactions in my systems of defence.
Capable of sharp and cutting observations of the weaknesses of others… I can deflect and attack when I feel hurt… being swift and nimble I can physically escape and hide… being in need of reassurance... I can find myself moving towards the source of my hurt with arms wide open looking for a reconnect… and all these strategies… leave me mired in that pit... that pit we know is there waiting for our injured selves to fall into… that pit of anxiety… that pit of self pity… of self hatred.
So I perpetuate the cycle of violence… my response to feeling hurt and injured as a result of the violence and aggression of others… even though I know that this is just them acting out their own suppressed reactions to acts of violence they have experienced… often prevents connection… understanding and communication.
This is where I sit… in this place of understanding… while holding onto the reality that I am immersed within this violent modernity we call civilisation… and sitting here writing this… helps me work this through… helps me take the time I need to nurse my own injuries while not creating new ones… for myself or for others.
It seems it is a fine line between being aware… being honest… accepting the reality I exist in and reaching out for wider options.
When I choose to question these internal voices that measure and evaluate me and my capacities… they are often coming from a place of genuine concern for my well being… when I question those external voices from friends and others who I perceive as careless… inconsiderate… there is often a struggle for understanding.
Non violent communication is not as easy to implement in the busy hurry of our lives as it is to see it's worth.
Practicing these non violent responses to the violence I see and feel around me… around us… is an ongoing process for me… and writing this out like this… is a large part of me being able to embody and live in ways that create openings for real communication… intimate connection… entangled and messy engagements with my self… my others within myself… and with all those others who choose to interact in the theatre of the felt shift that I find my self dancing within.
Thanks for keeping me company on this investigation… it seems that the more I learn… the less I know… and just now… I am trusting that not knowing contains the real wisdom.