There are many ways to define what is violence. Expression of aggression, abuse of force, means to an end, etc. Let’s stick to the most common definition by World Health Organization – intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation. As broad as it gets – this definition at the very least covers all the potential means and sources of violence in one long sentence. However, it’s just words that only signify parts of the concepts. They don’t give any substance. And that’s a problem.
What violence means?
Generally speaking, violence means that a person or group have intentions to use physical, verbal or political (in broader terms) force or authority against somebody else because of certain seemingly justifying reasons against the wishes of abused. Context is very important in classifying violent acts. One act of offense can be an expression of unmotivated rage, while the other can be an act of revenge or preventive measure. There is also whole other dimension regarding misuse or abuse of authority. Level of violence is distinguished by its aftermath – amount of harm or injuries applied to the victims.
What is troubling with such definition is the ways it can be turned around depending on the context. Look at how criminals are often trying to minimize or get away with certain elements of the crimes they have committed. There is always a load of circumstantial evidence that can roll the cards upside down and backwards with a little help of certain rhetorical contortions.
Another uneven element is how acts of violence are dependable are viewed from the outside points of view. There are numerous examples of how media misinterpreted certain accidents in order to achieve some sort of sensationalist appeal which will in turn keep the audience attention on the wrong elements.
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How to write about violence?
Why it is important to understand the concept of violence? Because it is not limited to the common definition of getting abused verbally or physically. It goes far beyond. Violence is one of the defining and utterly pitiful characteristics of human being. The one that have been plaguing its existence from the very beginning. Needless to say that it is the premier sources of all the troubles in the world. One wants something at others expanse. Sometimes that fellow gets punished. But far more often – not. Sometimes the perpetrator is even regarded as a victim of circumstances and even hailed as a hero. But that’s all surface. There is always more inside and it is important to correctly define and describe all the undercurrents that lead to the act of violence.
One of the main problems with writing about violence is deliberate adjusting of the details. Call it abuse of wishful thinking. Because the majority of cases has its evidence shut behind the closed doors – there is always a temptation to make up the missing pieces with some sort of conspiracy theory. This leads to massive misinterpretation of motivation for the actions and thus obfuscation of the initial intentions. This is too very common in the modern media.
Another problem is prejudice. It is true that usually the prime suspect is the perpetrator. But that doesn’t mean that the writer needs to imply to that without referencing to the solid evidence of one’s actions.
There is also a big trap in form of explaining violence. Where to start with that one? Before you start writing about violent act – you need to clearly define several elements:
- Who did it? Against whom?
- What kind of relations both sides had?
- What was the source of a conflict (if any)?
- What was the driving force behind the act?
- What were the circumstances under which the act of violence was performed?
- What kind of damage was done?
- What is the aftermath of event (direct and long term)?
But there’s one but:
One can’t simply write about violence. This subject is always a sign of something bigger hiding in the shadows. Violence never occurs at random. It is systematic. It is an entire institution that oppresses victims and offenders in equal measure. Writing an essay about violence never means writing about violence per se. It means you write about circumstances under which it happened and its consequences. You need to explain the mindset of the perpetrator – his motivation behind the actions and role in a bigger scheme of things. You need to describe the environment in which act of violence occured. Finally, you need to define what kind of violence was applied.
Anyway, understanding violence is important in order to understand the inner-workings of our society. Violence surrounds us and it needs to be prevented by all means necessary. Writing about violence – explaining its origin, motivation, intentions, etc – is one of the ways to solve the problem.