Written by Hend Fayez Abuenein
A man killed both his wife and her sister; a husband hammered his wife’s head open; a youth stabbed his college classmate to death; and another shot a man in vengeance: the misery pours out of the local press. In less than a week our press has reported more acts of murder that are seemingly unrelated, yet all that could be found in common between these crimes is that they were unjustifiable and avoidable with a little self-restraint.
But it seems that self-restraint is a characteristic we still have to create in our society.
If you ask anyone what he or she thought were the reasons behind such violence inherent in our behavior, which I actually did through social media, you would see the extent of how they accept this to be a social norm.
Some say it is sometimes it is only natural for a person to get angry and for one to lose control. But the thing is, we are more prone not to try the “control” trick in the first place. When Saleh Al Dweikat – the student who lost an eye getting beaten by a rampaged teacher – asked for a drink of water, he wasn’t set out to try anybody’s patience, nor was his behavior provocative in any way to justify getting beaten.
But what really happens to people who lose control is that they don’t even begin to talk. Whatever the matter, whatever the cause of anger, they don’t stop to think of the choices at hand. They resort to what they were taught at sometime in their lives to be the shortest, most effective and impressive of reactions – a violent one – leaving the possible consequences to be dealt with later.
We, as a nation, are in dire need for some anger-management training. Our educational input, as well as our upbringing, totally ignores teachings of dialogue and debate. We are not taught to contemplate or accept the notion that we could be wrong, nor that we should accept the other’s opinion even if we disagree, nor that communicating thoughts is the first step out of dilemmas. This is when other cultures are incorporating the art of debate in their schooling systems and holding nation-wide debate contests.
On the other hand, our paternalistic society hails violence to be an act of manhood, pushing the limits of male-aggression even farther. The violence on our campuses is nothing but proof that all it needs for two youths to start stabbing each other is a look of defiance. There and then, without a word spoken, they would start hitting each other, just to prove to the spectators “who’s the man”. That causes the loss of dear lives, and in the least harmful of cases, loss of future prospects.
To change the mindset of accepting violence as a choice, we have to integrate the art of dialogue and verbal expression into our education at very early ages, and work up to the ages where it is most effective. Even if that takes the next generation to show results, the profound change in our society that will save lives and ensure security will be worth while.
The Black Iris also comments on this subject.
[Editor’s note: The phrase “despite a religious and historical tradition of kindness and generosity” has been removed from the previous version.]