The surge of violence in the Middle East has brought to my attention the behavior of frustrated and angry citizens. I know I already blogged a little about Egypt, but I find the whole thing fascinating, watching history unfold before my very eyes. Kind of like when the Berlin Wall came down, or when the Soviet Union ended. Lots of stuff is going on now, but my focus at the moment is on the anger and violence, and how it’s being played out. I see anger and violence in a way that is clear to me and to many of my colleagues in rapid resolution therapy, but perhaps not so clear to others. What causes anger? And what causes violence? The two are related, and I would like to offer a way of understanding them: that violence is an aggressive force, stemming from anger, used to elicit a response. That’s my official definition, for now. And the response that violence is looking for is always the same, to make sense of whatever is going on.
The mind is always trying to make sense of the world. In the years that I’ve been doing RRT, I’ve learned that you can’t make sense of something that doesn’t make sense. You just can’t. And when the mind can’t make sense of what’s going on, the automatic responses are always anger and frustration. I’ve seen it over and over again. Anger and frustration is in response to trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense. Now this is the tricky part: when people accept that their environment doesn’t make sense, and when they (or what they value) do not feel threatened by those around them, they are fine.
But when an illogical, nonsensical environment is no longer tolerable, violence comes in. In making my previous definition even more exact, I am going to define violence as a forceful attempt to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense.
When we look at violence like this, it may make be more clear. Whether or not we agree with violence doesn’t matter. But when we can understand it as a person’s, or a group’s, attempt to make sense of something, it may shed light on better ways to communicate with others. Or, as rapid resolution therapy would put it, to connect with others.