There’s a knee-jerk reaction that I would say most people have when it comes to the question of whether or not violence can solve anything. Most would probably say that violence isn’t an answer to any of our problems, and in fact, often makes the situation worse. The riots in Baltimore this week have me pondering this question, and increasingly wondering if that automatic response is actually correct.
I am beginning to wonder if, in certain contexts, violence such as what’s happened in Baltimore can actually spur action from the powers that be when all else has failed. Of course, the moral question of whether it is right or wrong is pretty simple. It’s not right. But I wonder – is it sometimes a necessary evil?
The events that have unfolded this week are a small portion of the overall protests, which have been peaceful. But I think the violence in part stemmed from an ongoing frustration with that fact – that protests have been going on for weeks and months concerning the issue of police brutality, and nothing seems to be changing, and nobody seems to care. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the media chooses to focus on the issue only when they deem it newsworthy – that is, when windows start getting smashed and things start getting set on fire. You could say that the attention that is received when this happens is mostly negative, but it is attention, and maybe that’s what matters when the situation becomes so drastic in the hearts and minds of those most affected.
Throughout our history, we have had to resort to violence and destruction to spur change, for the sake of the greater good. The American Revolution was hardly peaceful. Neither was the Civil War. Or World War Two. Of course, those are examples of war, which is not the same as a riot or insurrection. Nevertheless, it is violence. The changes that came about as a result of resorting to drastic measures might not have happened if peace and non-violence was adamantly adhered to. Which begs the question – where is the line drawn between accepted, necessary violence and that which is deemed counterproductive?
Say what you want about people destroying “their own” city or communities. What people forget about rioting is that it is a complete rejection of the institutions and established order that people feel no longer serve them. It might be ugly. It might bring pain. But one thing that’s for sure, those in power certainly don’t like to see people start to rebel and revolt against the status-quo, and it certainly won’t be ignored, for better or worse.
Photo credit – Pixabay.com – OpenClips