War on violence

Opinion piece by Mark Turner

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It was a community college public speaking course. The instructor had us perform an exercise on persuasion, in preparation for our assigned speech to persuade. Our instructor selected 10 students, and split them into pairs. He gave 5 of them a $20 bill. For the exercise, he instructed those with the $20 to keep it. He instructed the cashless to persuade their partner to give up the $20 bill. Various techniques were employed, from negotiation to coercion. Some techniques worked, and some were unsuccessful. Early in the exercise, one student grabbed the wrist of a hand holding a $20 and demanded release. After a brief resistant protest, the student released the cash, but slapped the aggressors hand.

The exercise taught me an important lesson about how effective violence can be in getting what we want. It showed me how quickly some will resort to using violence, without even attempting negotiation. It also showed me how some folks immediately respond to violence with violence. When this happens in the classroom, it is uncomfortable. When in happens in the streets, or other battlefields, it is mostly tragic.

The Charleston Grace AME congregation did not choose to respond with hate or violence when their church was shot up. Instead, they stunned the world when they responded to the bloody massacre with words of love, forgiveness, and grace.

Why was this response so stunning? It was stunning because it is so uncommon.

If humans are meant to survive, we must evolve. We must learn that violence, while effective, is not the solution to any of our problems. I think that humans must evolve away from violence, and take a more thoughtful approach. What do you think?

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