Definition of violence


Definition of violence Part 1: Heads or tales

 Hussein went to an old Sufi named Abdel and he told him that he hated violence and had endured it for a while. It had caused him to cry a lot and he did not want to be in that state anymore.

The Sufi looked at him, thought for a while and asked him to take out a quarter of his pocket. Hussein looked at him surprised and he took the quarter and gave it to him. Abdel looked at him and the quarter. He shown him several times the heads face of the quarter and tails face of the quarter and he said: “As you can not separate the two sides of this quarter, you can not separate violence and tears. They are both the expression of the same problem. The one who is violent with you probably has the same sufferance than you who is accepting that violence. He is just expressing that problem in a different way. When you accept that somebody be violent with you, you are also responsible of the violence that he gives you.”

“How so?” said Hussein and Abdel said: “well, when somebody is suffering, he usually reacts in three ways. One is to run away, another is to fight the problem which is to be violent as well and the last is to suffer and cry. Therefore two people can have the same sufferance but they react completely differently. When you said that you hate violence, what you were actually saying is that you hate the other side of your sufferance. The tears and violence are two sides of the same problem. You probably accepted the violence because you wanted to break yourself because that sufferance was within you. You identified yourself with the sufferance that you carried inside you and you allow yourself to be broken by others because you did not think that you were worth anything. The violence that you called upon you arrived because you were not able to break the violence within you. You almost asked that person to be violent with you to help you break the sufferance that you have inside. Another way of understanding what you said when you told me that you hate violence is that you actually hated the cure that you brought upon yourself. Let me put it in less dramatic way. By hating violence, you told me that you hated your tears. It means that you hate the two sides of your sufferance.”

“What am I to do then” said Hussein and Abdel answered: “You will go nowhere if you keep on hating yourself the way you have done so far. You need to learn about yourself and get to know exactly how you are. Knowledge is the thing that will make you distinguish between you and your sufferance. As long as you will not be able to separate the two, whenever you will think about your sufferance, you will think about destroying yourself. By learning about your sufferance, you will not be subjected to the two sides of your pain. You have to move away from the tears and the violence in order to reach the fracture within you that causes you to suffer.”

Hussein: “but what about the person who is violent?” Abdel answered: “One answer would be to say that you should not worry about him but you would be able to understand that when I will finish my explanation. You see, the person who is violent with you sees you as the representation of his pain. This is why he wants to break you. He sees in you how fractured he is within him. He decided to act against you because he saw himself in you. You are the personification of the pain that made him the way he is. By being violent with you, he is trying to destroy the part within him that made him go through the difficulties he went through. This is how he visualizes you. In other words, he does not want you to remind him of his own demons. He is asking you to disappear. He is begging you to stop reminding him of his pain. He wants it to disappear. Like I said at the beginning, if you are able to solve the problem that you have, he will never be around you. If you are able to deal with your sufferance, he will never see you as his pain. Therefore, I will say it again, he is not the problem. You are the only problem that you need to solve and that’s it.”

Hussein: “yeah, but he keeps on attacking me and I am scared” and Abdel said: “I understand. Maybe for a while, you are going to hide yourself while you will do the research about yourself. It will help you to observe yourself and learn more about your reactions. You will be surprised to see that he will look for you because he will miss you. Of course at his level of understanding, he will look for you to break you as he usually does but at a different level, he would be looking for you because his pain is telling him that he has an unfinished business with you. His inside pain is telling him that he needs to break the pain he has within him and the only way he knows how to do it is to attack you.  His pain does not let him rest. It is disturbing him at all times. At an even higher level, by acting the way he does, he is pushing you to go look for the way to come out of your pain because he hopes that it will cure himself. He is in desperate needs of cure. If you don’t do it for him, he will keep on coming. His agenda is to get you to solve that problem because it will solve another problem that he has.

I don’t want you to think that because you are hiding yourself it means that you are weak. You are hiding yourself in order to protect yourself and to reach your goal which is to know you and to get out of your pain. Once you would have solved your problem, you will be able to confront him and I can guarantee you that he will not touch you because he won’t recognize you. The pain in him will no longer see its reflection in you.”

Definition of violence Part 2: Heads and tails part 2

Hussein: “Yeah, but when he is violent with me, I am completely paralysed.”

Abdel: “I have to agree with you. Violence is very impressive. People loose their common sense when they are confronted with it. I can not really ask somebody who is under violence to reason appropriately. The person who is violent should be taken away in order for the people to think correctly. If nothing is done to protect them, they end up being scared, full of fear, paralyzed, worried, etc. This is why I told you to hide yourself at the first place because if you don’t, your capacity to reason will be diminished or influenced by the fear of violence. 

If you are really tired of violence, you need to address it in depth and the only way to do it would be to learn about yourself entirely and to discover the violence that lies beneath you. Once you know that you have allowed the violence of that man to touch you, it means that you are also capable of that violence. Instead of giving to others that violence, you just gave it to yourself.

I can guarantee you that it is not less impressive. The person who has provided you with the violence that you called for is equally impressed and scared by your capacity of taking it even though he would not admit it or is not even aware of it. He knows deep down deep inside him that after doing all that violence against you, if ever you wake up against him, he will be in big trouble. In order for you to discover that, you need to examine who you are and how you are functioning. When you know how your mind is working, you will no longer be impressed by violence and you will have a different attitude towards it. The paralyzing effect of it will not affect you.”

Hussein: “Yeah but everything in him is scary and I want it away from me”

Abdel: “Violence comes with a different set of features. You have the eyes of the person, their voice, the tone of their voice, the movements of their hands, the way they look at you, their gestures, and the way they stand in front of you. 

So, all those things are in front of you before it even begins to be an attempt to your physical body. All those things participate to the implementation of fear and as long as you have not identified it and see how you react to all those things, you will not be able to face it.

You have to realize it gradually. Once you recognize the effect that those behaviours have on you and you can pinpoint each violent attitude, you will see how your body reacts to that verbal and visual violence on one hand and on the other hand you will see how your body reacts to the smell and sound of violence. You will find out that something is triggered in your body that makes you react in a certain way and if you can go beyond that thing, you will have a different reaction to violence. You will realize that it is a play. It is a very good play and it has dramatic consequences but nonetheless, it is a play.

Having said that, if you believe what I said earlier, consequently, you must also believe that your attitude of fear is also a play. You are also acting as someone who is scared. The features of your face, your look, your postures and gestures, your words, you voice, your tone of voice are also creating the character that you are giving to the violent person. You need to know why you are only playing this part and what kind of pleasure it is giving you. You and your violent companion are excellent comedians and none of you want to leave its respective role.

If you want to be in a different role, you need to learn how to present yourself like that person. You need to know what you want to project and if it resonates with what you are deep inside yourself. Remember, if the person you want to play is not you, you will not be able to play it fully because you will not believe in him.

If you believe in the person that you are playing, all its features and its attributes will come to you easily but if you do not believe in him, people will feel it and they will attack you because they will feel like you are lacking sincerity.

This is why once again I urge you to find more about yourself. In order to do that, I strongly recommend that you hide yourself because if you are not hidden, you exposed yourself to difficulties that the presence of the violent person might create against you. Unfortunately, if you are under its influence, the person that will emerge from within you will not be completely you. It will be the person who came out in reaction the violent behaviour in front of you and there is chance that your life might take a turn that it should not have taken providing that you were not under the same circumstances. The choices that you will make might not be the choices that will lead you to the point you have chosen to go to before coming on earth.

I repeat one more time; hide your physical body for a while in order to find the invisible person that is waiting for your call within you. That person will never disappoint you and you will never need to act with him or for him. That person is more you than your entire imagination will ever be able to grasp at this point. Trust him, believe in him, nurture him, support him, encourage him, love him and allow it to find the place within you and you will be surprised by what he can for you if you let him play its role.”

Definition of violence Part 3: what is violence?

Hussein listened carefully to what Abdel had told and thanked him for his advises. Now that he had a new vision of violence in his head, he walked back at his place and thought about it. He tried to figure out how he could deepen his thoughts about it and implement a change of behaviour in his daily life.

He was able to hide himself without thinking that he was a coward. He managed to see his disappearance not as something he should be ashamed of because he was running away but instead as something that would protect his quest for knowledge. Although he was scared and did not want to face the guy who was attacking him, it was clear in his head that he was hiding because he did not want to face him in the same conditions he had faced  him in the past. He was in hiding because he wanted to learn about himself. He wanted to understand the way he was functioning.

Being in front of the one who was attacking him while he was attempting to know himself, he would have complicated the achievement of his goal and there was no need to complicate things further than they were already for him. They had been complicated enough so far. In order to facilitate the learning process about himself, he went underground where nobody was going to see him or look for him.

The price of knowledge about him demanded that he acted that way no matter what people thought around him. When people did not see him in his village, they concluded that he had run away. They believed that he could not take anymore assaults from the guy who was attacking him. They were sorry for him for not being able to handle that man. He was regarded as a run away guy.  The little respect that was left about him in the village after everybody witnessed his weakness in front of the person attacking him in the past had completely disappeared now that he was nowhere to be seen.

During the night, Hussein usually came up and looked around the village to hear people murmuring and talking about his sudden disappearance. He listened carefully to what they thought about him. He realised how people perceived him and how they portrayed him. It gave him the opportunity to see how the violence he had endured had affected his relations with people. Hearing about it, only intensified his needs to remain hidden to learn quietly about himself. When he was alone, he revisited all the attacks he suffered. He listened to the noise and sound of violence, he saw the eyes of violence and he noticed the gestures and movements of violence. He realised there was different type of violence.

On top of the list were the gestures, the looks, the movements of the body because people could not easily defend themselves against those. All those things usually preceded the actual physical violence. When the people who are doing those things are confronted, they usually accused the others of having a strange way of seeing things. They blame the person who brings the problem up to them for having dubious visions of things.

On second position were the verbal ones. Hussein saw that everybody could recognize them when they were insults but when it came into the form of irony, mockery, jokes, remarks that were abruptly coming out of nowhere; people had difficulty to point their fingers at them. Nobody agreed completely in what really constituted violence.  Due to the difficulty to define the boundaries of this violence, there was a grey area here in his village. It made the people who suffered this type of violence unable to name it and sometimes they were even the one saying that the violence that they were enduring was not violence. They did not want to be seen as people who were suffering. On the other hand, this lack of clear definition allowed people to use this grey zone to be extremely violent against one another. Nobody could actually say anything because everybody was doing it.

At the third position came the more insidious violence because you needed to be very much observant, careful and to pay attention to your own feelings in order to put your finger on them. Indeed, it was some kind of strategy. It consisted on making an act of violence and pretended that it was nothing. The consequences of that were that the person who had suffered ended up not trusting the feeling of being attacked. They constantly doubted their feelings. Since the people around them acted as if what had happened was normal, they felt like they were the one crazy.

Another example would be that the person who had committed the act of violence remained extremely calm and when the person who had suffered it was outraged, the violent one would pretend that the other was too emotional or was over exaggerating things or over reacting.

Hussein saw this other example: when someone came and presented a problem he had, a violent way to address it was to do something else at the same time and ask the other to continue to talk regardless of what he was doing. In addition to that, he would ask the other person to repeat every two words and to speak louder.

Another form that violence was taking was this way: when someone wanted to confront the person who made them suffered, the one who did the violence listened to her or him carefully, gave his full attention, pretended that he was looking for the problem and that after doing all that effort, he was not able to see where was the problem. The violence here was that he or she was acting as if he/she was really concerned by what the other person was saying and really wanted to solve the problem when it was just an act.  He or she played the surprised guy just to destroy the strength of the argument the one who was confronting him came with. Everything is done to make the other person feel completely stupid to even have considered bringing the remark up. In this situation, the violent one remained extremely calm and did not move anything in his body and is very comprehensive. His behaviour made the other person feels as if they were the one crazy and that they were always taking things the wrong way.

Sometimes there is a game into the speed of the voice. The violent person will speak quickly, then will stop and will remain silent for a long period of time. This will put the person in front of him in a situation where he or she would not know which type of discussion he is having. 

Is he/she in silent mode because it is a bad time to talk and therefore why does he not say it? Or is the person thinking about an answer? Perhaps the person does not care about the problem? In this case, if the person who brought the subject leaves the room, he will be accused of leaving the conversation. They often add that the other left the conversation because she/he just wanted to expose their views without listening to the answers. They will pretend that their silence was a way to think deeper about the problem before giving an answer as if they were saying that the one in front of them is always talking without thinking seriously. They will accuse the person who left the room of not giving them the time to reflect seriously about the problems they brought. The will justify their silence as a way of caring so much about the problem that they needed think about it. They will accuse the other of misinterpretation.

Another case: when the violent one will speak quickly and the other will respond as quickly as the violent one did, he would be asked why he or she is rushing and if he is rushing because he or she does not want to give the necessary time to understand the problem. It is a strategy to break the conversation and to put the fault on the other one. The violent one who is in a strategy will say if you don’t want to see the entire problem, you should not bring it up. Following that, when the person who brought the problem will try to accommodate the violent one by speaking slowly this time, the violent one will accelerate. Everything is done to disarm the other. It is a clear strategy.

These were the things Hussein discovered after observing his reactions and the reactions of the violent ones. He studied the people in the village and realized that they were all violent with each other. Even if they were not physically violent, they were all violent. This is why they were accommodating themselves pretty well with violence in the village. They were living in violence. They had in them a certain degree of violence. Depending on their education or their ability they exercised it in the area they knew best and they knew they could attack anyone with that.

Sometimes, some of them were acting violently without even knowing that what they were doing was violent.  The people who were suffering violence felt that something was wrong but they were not able to identify it because they did not know the different layers, shapes and forms of violence. Nobody had taught them what they were and how those different types of violence were affecting their lives. Hussein was stunned at how unprepared people were in front of violence. He thought that he was the only one but actually, everybody was in his situation.

Definition of violence Part 4: the lie beneath or the wrong definition of love

Hussein grew accustomed to his hidden position. He was invisible and he could see everyone acting. He was increasing the understanding of himself and wanted to know more about what was making him be the way he was. He realized that there was a system inside him that made him unable to function without violence. There was a wrong definition of what constituted violence and what constituted love. There were things that he was doing that were hurtful to him but that was considered by everyone as something good and therefore he took pride and pleasure at inflicting that pain on himself. He did not know that what he was doing was actually the worst thing he could have done for himself.

Indeed he saw that the people in his village were all doing what their parents wanted them to do. Their parents had suffered a lot during their lives and as soon as they were adults and had a job, they immediately did something to help their parents. They even organised their lives around their parents. They supported them sometimes well beyond what they were required to do. They did it regardless of their own needs or desires. They often sacrificed their own objectives in order to be able to support their parents. In some cases, it was even worst because they spent their entire time working toward that goal and they did not even realized that they could do something else with their lives. The need to be perfect sons or daughters was bigger than everything. Being good sons or daughters was considered the most important thing in Hussein village and the way to show that people actually qualified for that title was the way they were helping their parents. By doing so, they acquired the approval of their parents but all the parents around them. This is how people gained their love and respect in the village and in the country. This was considered love at the higher level possible.

Therefore, everything in people lives was done according to that. They lived to achieve what they considered love. They organised their lives around that idea. Everything else was secondary. They could not have done anything else unless they had achieved that goal before. Nothing else mattered for them if it had not helped their parents and did what their parents wanted. It was not only helping them that was important, it was also doing what they wanted. Respect of the family demanded that they behaved as such. They were slaves to the system of supporting and obeying to their parents and it made them forget about themselves.

It is true that after helping their parents, they received a kind of respect that everybody in their family was giving them but was it worth the trouble?

It was one thing to help your parents but it was another thing to help them even though it was clearly in contradiction with your interest. Usually when people were helping their parents, they did it without realizing the type of consequences it had in their lives. When they knew the consequences their actions will have in their lives, they did it anyway not because they thought it was the good thing to do it but because they were scared of the malediction that was going to unfold if they did not act that way.

There was not only the treat of malediction but also the guilt of not helping their parents that was motivating them. Of course Hussein did not think that it was necessarily a bad for people to help their parents but when one was helping his parents, he thought that he should be at least conscious of the choices he was making. He should make it out of love and not out of fear or desire to acquire respect in the society and if that was the case, he should be aware about it.

Such decisions should not be done under the influence of guilt or the treat or fear of malediction. When they were under those influences, they were taking their decisions not because they loved their parents but because they were scared. Therefore it was a wrong definition of love that pushed them to act the way they did. They did not have a good idea of what was love and it made them act violently against themselves when they were convinced that they were doing the contrary.

By putting aside their own objectives and maybe their life purpose to achieve something that was not going to give them happiness nor satisfaction, they were increasing the violence within them and within their society. As a matter of fact, it was taking them away from their life purpose. Consequently, even if they achieved the goal of supporting their parents, they felt like something was missing. They could not accept that they had left the feelings they had for their parents blind them. They were unable to see that the wrong definition of love for their parents stopped them from realizing what they came on earth to do. They could not question the type of love they had for their parents because it meant that they were bad children and they could not bear that thought. They did not want to face that hard question: did the love for my parents stop me from doing what I wanted. No one wanted to ask that question, it was taboo to even dare risk that question. The one who would ask that could fall under malediction and no one wanted to be in that situation.

Since there was no escape, the only way to get out of it was to continue to impose this on their children. They could not get out of the situation they were in unless they had a clear definition of what love was. They were trapped because of their fear.

Unfortunately, that fear was only increasing the violence within their society. They could not see it and were not aware of it but by not doing what they wanted, they hurt themselves without knowing and they carried within themselves a secret hatred for their parents that they did not know about. Since they had lived that way, they were expecting their children to do the same thing for themselves and if they would not, they were threatening them or throwing a malediction at them. Even if their parents would choose not to send a malediction against them, the people in the village would execute that malediction on the children who did not help his parents. His behaviour would be so scandalous that, no one would stand it without doing it. If his own parents loved him enough not to hurt him, the others would do it for him. This was the invisible violence and threat that they had to endure that everybody had to endure.

It was not just the parents who were helped in that system. Whenever someone did not have enough money, the person who had got a little bite of success was supposed to help him in addition of the help he was providing to his parents. All the people in that family who had less money but could survive alone, kept their money on the side and asked for help to the one who had a little bite of success. Therefore, everybody was supported by this one person who had an apparent success.

Parents were not only fathers and mothers but they were brothers, sisters, uncles aunts, cousins, family relations etc. It was clear to Hussein that when one person had to support in one way or another all the other people, there was a violence there that was done not only to the person who was helping but also to the people who were helped.

The one who was helping sometimes lived in conditions that were far lower than the standard his money could allow him to live. He put himself in those conditions just to meet the objectives of helping everybody. He lived like a poor person because he was trying to help the others and everybody thought that this situation was normal.

Unfortunately, they lived under a big scammed. There was a lie that was supporting the whole structure of their village. Because of that lie, violence was circulating and was imposed to everyone. Everybody got accustomed to it and could not get out of it.

Behind the perfect society where everybody helped everyone, there was a humongous lie. It was not because they loved that they were helping, it was because they were scared. They could not face themselves to be the one being well off and not helping others not because they had compassion but because if they would not do it, they will fall under malediction and guilt. No one wanted to bear that over his or her head.

Definition of violence part 5 and final: the choice

After seeing the comedy the humans were living, Hussein wanted to stay hidden. It had been five years since he had disappeared from the village. At the beginning, when he went underground, he was so convinced that once he will get back to normal, he would get even with the people who offended him.

Five years into his studies and he did not even want to get revenge. His discoveries made him happy but extremely sad for the others. He understood what was going on inside them but could not do anything to help them. What he found out was too big for the people of his village. He was not sure they would be able to understand. His conscious was so far away from the one of his village that he did not know if he was going to be able to enter back into his village. He saw the way they were suffering and the way he was suffering before and he cried. Feeling a little a bite desperate, he went to see the Sufi Abdel because he could not take so much sufferance.

As soon as he arrived at the Sufi’s house, Abdel received him and wondered out loud how his disciple was. Hussein was surprised that he called him his disciple because he had never taken any vow to follow him but he did not say anything. Hussein thanked him for the advices he gave him and explained him what he had discovered.

Abdel listened to him carefully and congratulated him for the time and effort he put in understanding what was going in on in him and in the people who were living in his village. He asked him if he wished something else. Hussein paused and said that he did not know what to do. He was free and sad at the same time and he wanted to stay hidden where he was because the outside world was unbearable for him.

Abdel looked at him and said: “My dear disciple. It has been five years since I am helping you from here. I have seen all the progress you have done and I am really proud of what you became. Today, you arrived at a point where you need to do something with yourself. Your knowledge is incalculable. You are gifted. The world has given you something that is rare and you need to take care of it and let it mature to the best of your ability. With the gift that you have, if you stay hidden, it would be an interesting life but you will not be used to the fullest extend. The Divine has a duty for you and if you choose to stay hidden, he will respect your choice but by hiding yourself, you are missing the work that you came here to do. You are one of the few who succeeded in this path and people need to see that. If you go out there and interact with people, the Divine will help you grow by using you to help the others grow. All those years when you took the violence were not in vain. The best thing you can do so far would be to go back in your village and by your attitude; you will show them how it is possible to live differently.”

Hussein: “but I think they will not understand”

Abdel: “there is so much you don’t know yet. Trust life and you will see. I will be there even if you don’t see me and if you need to see me, my door is your door”

Hussein: “is that mean that I have to go back in the village?”

Abdel: “it means that you do whatever it is that you want but you asked me a question and I gave you my answer. Now it is your choice”

Hussein thanked him for everything he did and left. He went back in his village. When he arrived, people were amazed. They had never thought that he would come back. As the matter of fact, they had even forgotten about him. When they saw him, no one dared ask him any question. They were scared of him. Even the person who used to attack him did not venture to do anything against him. People sent children to ask him where he had been for the past five years. He simply replied that he went to study and when he was done with school, he decided to come back to take his place among the people of the village.

Slowly, after few months of silence between the people and him, people started to go at his place and asked him about his studies. He told them that he had learnt about violence and how it was working. Some wanted to know about it and he told them that he would be delighted to teach them. And that is how Hussein started his life purpose on earth in his village.

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