The Last Refuge

7 Apr

VIOLENCE: exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse: injury by or as if by distortion, infringement, or profanation: intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force : vehement feeling or expression or an instance of such action or feeling : a clashing or jarring quality :

Once again it has taken a  public viewing of violence in action to move the individuals most responsible for that violence to take action to end it, even though it had been occurring for quite some time and known about by quite a few individuals, and that’s not even including the adult perpetrator and his adult victims, who obviously were all too aware about it too.

In case you are unaware of the specific incident of which I speak, I am referring to the recent firing of the Rutgers Men’s Basketball coach. Certainly there are and have been greater and more violent episodes in our society than this one… but perhaps it is our all too common belief that violence, when called by a sweeter name makes its stench more rosy… that allows for its constant acceptance by all of us in all of its various and insidious forms.


Our use of Violence in our society is almost as inexplicable as it is pervasive. It accomplishes nothing, leaves anger in its wake and only satisfies the one who uses it. And that satisfaction is almost always short lived and regrettable. And violence is also something that seems to require the immediate notice of many to even be seen or acknowledged as something that actually exists.

When experienced by the few the violent act almost always takes refuge in the deeper recesses of the brain… a shared secret among those who agree to be separate yet somehow equal, perpetrators.

Why we still resort to it is a question that by now we should have an answer and a solution to. It is a sad testament to our culture and humanity that we have not yet found one.

I have lived long enough and have worked with enough troubled and battered children to have realized that violence is not and can never be a motivational tool for any kind of positive learning experience, personal athletic improvement or moral achievement. Violence isn’t even a last resort. It’s a surrender. It’s a statement that says “I have no idea what to do!” And it truly is “the last refuge of the incompetent”.

 Rather than scorned or shunned by those who have felt its wrath it seems to be handed down from generation to generation like an inherited gene. And yet I have never met anyone who has ever sworn by its instructive value as in: “If I hadn’t been for that coach/parent/mentor’s abuse  in my youth I never would have developed the talents that I have today”

Whenever I see someone who is performing a task or involved in an instructive activity, resort or devolve into violence to make a point or a show or to add punctuation, I know that they have no idea what they are doing and that it’s time to walk away, get out of the way or move on to someone else.

There’s just no two ways about it… and until violence in all of its aberrant forms  is always and unequivocally equated with incompetence we will forever live in a world that will at best be one of two steps forward and one step back…and perhaps even more sadly the other way around.



7 Responses to “The Last Refuge”

  1. Anne April 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    I share your bewilderment and appreciate the thoughtful way in which you express it here. I was particularly taken by your words “Rather than scorned or shunned by those who have felt its wrath it seems to be handed down from generation to generation like an inherited gene.”

    When I was a child, schoolchildren were sometimes hit by the headmaster with a thin bamboo cane; usually on the hand. Corporal punishment was made illegal when I was in my teens and I remember the consternation that caused. People could not imagine how they would ever control children without it.

    The real fear, I suppose, is that teachers are so outnumbered that a class could easily rise up against them. Sometimes, I think they should.

  2. Tyler Roberts April 7, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    Love is the only thing that makes a lasting, positive impression. Violence, outside of violence to protect oneself or family, has never furthered humanity and always leaves our world a little darker. I wish Bush had understood that when he went to the middle east and I wish Obama understood it now.

  3. bumbalada April 7, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    Although I do like your post and have selected the like box and have decided I’d like to follow your blog I am a little confused by the point you make about when ever you see violence used to punctuate a point you elect to walk away. Is walking away or turning a blind eye to violent acts not just as bad as performing the act yourself? I’m not intending to accuse you of anything but when I notice such acts, in most cases I elect to point out the error of the offenders ways. I may have misread your point and apologise if this is the case.

  4. Bill Jones, Jr. April 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    Well said. I tell people all of the time that I have never seen anyone who was truly motivated by negative feedback (much less abuse). There are some who’ve been trained to react to it as a cue to work harder, but I think that is more fear of reprisals or the belief that their improving performance will be a failure. The way to motivate someone is to instill in them the desire to improve, the belief that they can, and the tools to ensure that they do.

    They failed those kids at every level at Rutgers. Kudos to ESPN for not treating it as though it was okay.

  5. A Voice April 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    Strange as it may sound, all things considered, I’m far less worried about physical violence than I am about verbal violence. It seems that unless a teenager commits suicide due to pervasive bullying, people aren’t concerned or even aware of the terrible and lasting damage words can do.

    The town I group up in in NJ…I ran away from home on average once per year, each time giving the police the same story: my step-father beats me daily. (Bruising didn’t matter and my step-father was smart about it. I played soccer, I was going to be bruised.) I kept getting returned to the same home and, no matter what I told my mother or the school officials, I was always returned to the same home. One day when I was twelve I even appeared at the police station with my shirt half torn off, prompting them to arrest my step-father but later that day return me to the same home with him. It didn’t stop until I met his force with my own at age 16. That physical torture lasted for ten years and it was daily.

    But what hurts the most and still hurts now? My family (not my step-father) actually claimed that they loved me, something they do to this day. The words that my step-father said were backed by his actions: the words sank in. The words that my family said were made a lie by their actions: their unspoken words sank in.

    Violence truly is terrible and, while I know it more than most, I by no means claim to have had it the worst. What I claim is that I know that physical violence pales in comparison to the psychological damage of words, spoken and unspoken. And…more than anything else, people constantly act as though words don’t matter. It is because of that, more than anything else, that I and so many other people (children and adults) suffer(ed) in that particular way.

  6. TamrahJo April 8, 2013 at 6:11 am #

    Great Post – If each generation could just break one dysfunctional pattern, we would be so better off – I tell my kids I fully expect they will be a better person than I am – – hopefully, it works!

  7. Jammie April 8, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    An insightful and truthful post. I wish we all could have better self-control.

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