On the news today, the radio commentator was narrating at how firemen unleashed a torrent of water on a prayer vigil that was suspected to be a rally. The commentator was vehement at the fireman, whom he noticed was taking pleasure in hosing down several people in addition to a senator and a priest. He recommended that the fireman be given a psychological analysis, since he was gleeful in his act of violence towards other people, as if this were an unnatural thing.
While I’m not a supporter of violence, to deny that it’s a part of us is folly. We have several positive emotions, but we also have negative ones: sadness, depression, despair, greed, hate, and yes, the need to inflict injury on another creature.
I’ve witnessed that a number of people, when angered, lash out at something. Sometimes, it’s merely a verbal insult or shout. At other times, it’s something more physical, from throwing objects at another person to hitting the wall with their fists. In such a scenario, people give in to their primal nature. And that nature involves violence.
There’s a certain pleasure we receive from inflicting pain, whether it’s on another human being or on other creatures. Why is revenge so appealing to many? To anyone who’s harmed us or our loved ones, we don’t want to simply jail them. We want them to suffer, whether it’s ripping them apart limb from limb, cutting out their innards, or torturing them by pulling out their fingernails and sticking needles in them. Those who dislike certain animals take pleasure in their suffering as well, whether it’s watching ants burn as you focus a magnifying glass on them, or hearing the scrunch of cockroaches as you firmly step on them, twisting your feet to make sure they die.
I’m not saying this is necessarily a good thing, but it is a part of us. People can’t help it any more than they can be greedy, or selfish, or lazy. We can control such emotions, but we can never expunge it from our system, short of creating a villainous doppelganger of ourselves ala Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some people find release in other ways, whether it’s the rhythm of cutting up a butchered pig, striking at boxing bags and inflatable dummies, or playing games from Street Fighter to Paintball.
In the case of the fireman in the incident, perhaps it was his way of lashing out. I mean a senator was there, and wasn’t she a representative of the government? The same government that’s impotent in helping the country rise from poverty, the same government that perpetuates many injustices? And there was a priest. The church seems to be meddling in everything, yet to no avail, or worse, are hypocrites. I’m not saying these motives are justified, merely that many people succumb to this kind of reasoning. Even my driver, far from a saint, has a prejudice against cops of any kind, honking his horn whenever he sees one, the noise he generates his form of retaliation.
But despite all the horrible things our violent nature is capable of causing, I find it ironic that instead of facing this reality, many people turn away from it. It could be censorship, closing one’s eyes to the realities in life, or simple denial. In a way, it’s like a cancer patient ignoring the fact that he has cancer. Instead of finding a cure, we pretend that everything’s all right and that everything in the world is okay. It’s not. And if it was, I’d be the first person to panic. The thing to fear most is not a man that is violent, but a man who appears to have no vicious tendencies whatsoever. Either he’s not human, he’s lobotomized, or hiding his skeletons in a very dark and deep closet.