Violence And the Human Condition Essay
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1. In your opinion, what causes human beings to act violently? Cite evidence to support your position.
Violence is evident in our daily lives and in literature. In the past it meant extreme, brutal or sadistic behavior. Today, it is used to describe any act thought to be aggressive or hostile or destructive to another person. Violence is a human condition and we tend to understand ourselves through violence. The various types of violence include physical violence, psychological violence and sexual violence.
In my opinion, nobody is free of a darker side, but there are reasons why human act the way they do, their violence nature is accountable to some factors.
Human beings have a physical nature, which demands for the satisfaction of their physical needs if they are to survive and propagate as a species while on earth, and they have a spiritual nature that demands that their spiritual needs be satisfied if they are to be at peace with themselves. Moreover, human beings also have a human nature, by which they strive to both survive and to achieve peace and fulfillment in their lives. In seeking these objectives human beings often fall short, and in the process brings much harm and suffering upon both themselves and others. They become destructive in their efforts, when their only intention to bring peace and harmony to themselves and to the world.
Human behaviors tend to be motivated by the principle of reward and punishment. Thus, a person is likely to strive for things that bring pleasure, and to avoid those that cause pain. A person’s behavior is directed towards the goal of avoiding pain as he or she endeavors to achieve pleasure, joy, and contentment from life. Hence, human beings strive to gain as much happiness as possible in their voyage through life. In the course of the pursuit of human beings to satisfy their inherent needs, acquired needs or otherwise known as human needs are developed. In striving to satisfy our basic physical need for food and shelter, humans go far beyond engaging in activities that provide merely a minimal standard of living.
They seek to increase their wealth and to acquire material possessions far in excess of the necessities of life, so that they may enjoy the “finer” things in life: better clothing; more tasty foods; a larger house; an expensive car; an annual vacation. Often times they enjoy these material things not because of their intrinsic value, but because of their status symbol; what they represent with respect to self-worth, for human have a tendency to respect persons who have achieve great wealth, power, and position in the society, and to look with aversion to those who are at the other end of the social scale.
The striving for material possessions beyond those necessary for life, then, becomes an acquired need, which is related to the innate need for self-worth, and may be the driving force in the goals the person sets. In the process of attaining the target, there might be obstacles to overcome and humans will stop at nothing to get what they want. Some might resort to unscrupulous and underhanded methods that inflict pain on others and damage property, in other words, act violently so as to get their desired results.
Likewise, the striving for power, which in some individuals may be an effort to control their destinies, in others, may be an attempt to prove one’s self-worth. When carried to extremes, such strivings may result in abuse of power, atrocities, and exploitation of others. Thus, the most noble needs of human beings may be distorted and produce the inhumane actions that have occurred throughout history. The need for self-esteem may give rise to acquired needs that result in negative or destructive behavior to one’s self, as well as to others, with a person engaging in such unhealthy behavior as overeating, excessive drinking, or abuse of legal or illegal drugs.
A person’s self-esteem is a result of his or her experiences in life, and is contingent upon the person’s judgment as to the worth of himself or herself as a human being, for just as a person judges others as to their worth, the person is continually judging his or her own worth. How the person rates his or her worth, as a human being is a measure of the person’s self-esteem, which may be low, high, or somewhere in between. A person’s self-esteem is continually changing as mood, circumstances, or experiences and changes, It will vary in different social settings.
The self-esteem of a person is based not only upon how the person sees himself or herself, but also on how the person perceives others as seeing him or her. Although self-esteem may vary according to conditions, some persons harbor a general feeling of unworthiness unrelated to actual circumstances. Their low self-esteem may have developed in their adult years, but more often than not it stems from their early childhood experiences. A person who, for one reason or another, grows up having a low self-esteem carries around inside negative feelings about himself or herself, which may adversely influence his or her behavior all through life if not resolved.
The lack of self-esteem may also cause human to seek vengeance, when they feel that their unhappiness is a result of someone’s actions. They will feel anger and hatred toward those who hurt them physically or emotionally, for their sense of self-worth has been destroyed. Their natural tendency is to try to hurt that person back. As the Bible says, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” They attempt to get “even” with the person who has hurt them. Having been hurt, they are in an inferior position to the person who had inflicted pain upon them. When they successfully retaliate against the person, they would then feel equal again to the person and their self-esteem is restored. In a survey conducted by Alfred University, students are asked to rate 16 possible reasons for school shooting incidents, and it was agreed that revenge is the clearly the main reason, for top on the list is the motive, “they want to get back at those who have hurt them”.
Usually, however, the person who has hurt them is in a more powerful position than they are, so that it is not possible for them to harm him or her. Consequently, they carry around that anger with them, acting negatively towards themselves, others, or society in general, continually trying to get even, but never quite succeeding in regaining their feeling of self-worth. Thus, serial killers keep killing over and over again the same type of person whom they unconsciously blame for their hurt feelings and hatred, but never succeed in ridding themselves of their anger; and men and women who have not resolved their hurt from bad relationships carry their anger and fears into new relationships, preventing them from being truly satisfying.
It has been found that men who feel anger towards women rape because of their anger, rather than because of their sexual desires; and that physically, emotionally, or sexually abused children tend to perpetuate similar abuse on their own or other children, although we would think that a person who has been so damaged would not want to inflict their children thusly. A child who is spanked, hit or threatened with violence will have a tendency to become violence, and if the child is not allowed to release the emotion resulting from the pain and hurt, he or she will have unresolved and unexpressed feelings about what he had experienced. Being the victim of violence and other distressing experiences breeds violence in the child only when the emotions are blocked and repressed.
When this situation occurs, violence toward self or others is almost an inevitable outcome. Persons having unresolved childhood needs often seek control and power over others as a means of dealing with their situation, which seldom help as it doesn’t resolve the underlying issues. Violence is a distorted expression of the person’s rage or terror in an environment where it is not safe to reveal or release strong feelings. In addition, violence is tolerated and glorified in most industrialized countries. Children are exposed to violent male sports, and to television programs, films, and electronic games with mostly violent male protagonists.
Little boys are given toy soldiers, guns, and other war paraphernalia with which to play. Storybooks and school textbooks often glorify war, a predominantly masculine activity, and describe great male conquerors as heroes. Many parents are pleased when their sons fight back in self-defense with playground bullies, and adults worry about boys who refuse to fight, combined with the fact that boys are expected to be tough and not cry. Children who have been victims of abuse at home, do not get along well with parents, friends and teachers, have witnessed physical violence in their homes and neighborhood, tend to act violently towards other.
It is a vicious circle of a person being emotionally or physically hurt trying to hurt another, who then attempts to hurt someone else. More often than not, these negative feelings a person has about himself or herself stem from childhood experiences, as it had been previously discussed. So, even if a person does succeed in getting even with another whom he or she feels has caused the hurt, the person is still not satisfied. The person persists in unconsciously seeking out situations, which arouse hurt feelings, so that he or she will finally be able to put them to rest. The Spiritual need for self-worth is a major factor in determining acquired human needs, and this noblest of needs may result in altruistic acts or in adverse and asocial behavior, such as atrocities and abuse of others and self.
Although striving obsessively for material things far in access of actual need is a sign of emotional insecurity, there is a real need for financial security in the lives of everyone, which is another factor affecting human behavior. By financial security it is meant that a person has a secure source of funds available to provide for his or her minimum basic needs such as, food and shelter. To be happy, requires satisfaction of both physical and spiritual needs, but since it is necessary that their physical needs be taken care of at least to the extent required for survival, these are primary, and take preference over their spiritual needs until they are fulfilled, at least minimally.
The importance of financial security may be seen in situations like that of a loving relationship turned sour because of the stress caused by the loss of employment of one of the parties, as often occurs. Finances are a major concern to just about everyone, as there are few who have absolute financial security; and even those who are secure are concerned with their financial position in order to enjoy the finer things in life, and for egotistical reasons, like power, control, and status. So, finances plays an important part in the lives of everyone, and has a major impact on their behavior, even if the person has more than adequate funds to take care of his or her needs. Thus, people behave in a manner and pursue such activities that they believe will bring them the material rewards of life. Therefore, the pursuit for financial security may be considered as an acquired human need related to the primary needs of both physical and emotional security.
Philosophers of the past have seen the human condition, the condition of humanity, as being, and as having always been, one of unresolved conflict, both personal and social. Morality or moral conduct helps one identify what’s wrong and right, but more often than not, a person does something plainly because the rest are doing it, that person is being controlled by outside influences, not by his or her inner self. Western philosophers viewed morality as the individual fulfilling his or her nature as a human being under the rule of reason. However, in the nature of reasoning, everything is constantly changing, there is no stability in what is really right or wrong, so under the wrong influence, a person might act violently as a result of peer pressure and popular culture. Other factors might also manipulate the person’s chain of thoughts, like the feeling of jealousy, relationships, habits, stress, beliefs and religions, drugs.
Jealously is obsessed by the sense of possession and vengeance. Jealously in relationships might cause a person to act violently in order to maintain the present state of the relationship before the interference of the third party, which is the reason for the jealously. Some people might be unaware that their normal routine life habits unknowingly exhibit violence to others. For instance, some people like to hit or give others repetitive “hard” pats on their shoulders when they are laughing heartily, but to the person being hit, it might not seem as funny. Stress might case mental problems and religious beliefs might provoke a person to commit something violent, for example, mercy killing. It might not be violent in their eyes but in the perspectives’ of others, mercy killing might be considered a very cruel and merciless act.
The use of either legal or illegal drugs can affect the production and transmission of impulses that control the functioning of the systems of the brain used to restrict behavior, and can affect the perceptions and feelings experienced by a person, which may lead to inappropriate behavior. A person may take drugs not only to escape physical pain or to feel pleasure, but also to escape the negative feelings the person has about himself or herself, or about life in general.
When a person persists in the taking of drugs to the extent that the person becomes dependent on them, that is, addicted, it is extremely difficult to “just say no” to using the substance, since several factors are involved tending to perpetuate its continued use. Once addicted, regardless of the reason, a person has little control over his or her behavior. Punishment, therefore, does not work as a deterrent to a person who has a serious chemical dependency problem. There are a multitude of social factors involved as to why individuals take drugs, and drug abuse has become a major social problem and a prime factor in the commission of other criminal acts.
In conclusion, human beings act violently because of their spiritual nature, physical nature and human nature, as have been discussed in the above answers.