I am continually staggered by our domestic violence and other signs and statistics showing how aggressive we have become in this modern age. Most of the focus goes on men but violence from women is also becoming an issue – Police tell me that female violent crime used to be 15% but is now 50% and it tends to be more ruthless than male violence. This is not a forward growth pattern!
I believe much violence is triggered by what people say to one another and my last blog largely addressed this.
Reading press reports on the Pimpama murder and others, I see little in remedial action plans except band aids.
I say this as someone who was in the Australian Army for over 20 years. I then spent 30 years running camps and working in prisons to address the issue of boys growing up to become men. Obviously, I needed this training myself as a young man and largely got it in my military service when I was 18 through to 25. I served in the SAS (including Vietnam), Papua New Guinea, and on exchange with the British Gurkhas in that time frame and I grew up in a hurry!
We do not train boys to be men and then wonder why we have a violence issue from grown males. Really? Have we not studied human behaviour over the past several thousand years to get some idea? It seems not!
Brain studies show that boys aged 14 to 17 experience a brain growth surge. If they are not given the ‘big picture’ here of being connected to the Universe beyond their own small personal ego based reference point, they lose neurones and become cynical, frustrated, angry, aggressive, violent and into loud sounds and aggressive music. Does this sound familiar?
I went to a Catholic school in the 1950s and early 60s and for all its faults, it did present the ‘big picture’ albeit in very religious terms. They had to build extensions on seminaries and I finished high school in such an establishment. Now all the buildings have been bulldozed for a housing estate as there are not enough seminarians! Ask any volunteer organisation and the same story is forthcoming. We have not taught the young to be of service to others and step beyond the ‘me’ fixation.
There is nothing in the schoolroom and very little if any at home to ‘give teenagers the big picture’ beyond their ego, ‘I am at the centre of the Universe’, attitude. Indeed we see so much evidence of the entitled and self centred attitude in events like the recent USA elections and every day affairs here in Australia that it is embarrassing. But it is not the fault of our young people! Rather the blame lies squarely with us elders (over 25 to 35) in our community.
We think that we are a progressive enlightened generation and yet look at the slaughter of women and the toll in suicide and substance abuse. The most primitive tribes did better than this with Rites of Passage. Obviously, these were far from perfect but at least they were an attempt in the right direction and we with our social sciences have not even begun!
In most Rites of Passage for 14 to 21 year olds, youth learned how to handle growing up. In brief summary, the key lessons seemed to be:
- Young people need boundaries to feel secure. These can be negotiable within the limitations of the law and safety. But the none negotiables need to be treated with consequences that are immediate, hard, fair, and public. Our justice system does not deliver this and yet this is the only communication ego centred people understand.
- We are part of a big picture beyond the false ego centred self. Just look at the starry sky at night. This can make us feel small and insignificant especially if we just treat it like a head trip – we need to observe more deeply with our hearts and our guts. In this space we can reflect on the fact that all matter is made up of atoms and molecules that operate like the solar systems (sun and planets) and galaxies (groups of solar systems). We are matter, made up in this way and so what we are looking at is like a huge blow up photograph of each of us! As we are made up from the blue print of atoms and molecules as seen in front of us, so is the breeze that caresses our faces, so is the tree nearby, so are the animals we can hear – in fact, everything comes from this blue print – we are one big family – and we all belong to it! We are 98% the same as all matter in terms of oxygen and carbon etc. and in one year we exchange 98% of our body with that which is around us. We exchange our physical being with Nature all the time in our breathing, eating, sweating etc! Between atomic particles; quantum physics teaches that there is information and energy. Our essence is infinite knowledge and energy with the free will to join in the creation of the Universe. We need to let this infinite knowledge and energy, our true selves, drive our present and future and so keep the self image in the false self and ego out of it. This is far more exciting and challenging than any ego game!
- Pain not transformed becomes pain transmitted. I see no teaching on transforming pain in our society. When we taught this on our courses, teenagers and adults came alive! All the pain of neglect and abuse (and this was not restricted to any one strata in the socio economic scale) was converted from a toxic state to compost – it is what you do with manure!
- Power without principles is destructive. On our courses we taught courage (from the Latin ‘cor agere’ meaning ‘to come from the heart’ and thus be life centred and life giving to the point of giving your life) and honour (respect for self, others, and the environment) to become a gentle man or gentle woman (‘gentle’ is old English for ennobling or making things better) and thus to live a life of service.
- We need real life heroes not dysfunctional celebrities as role models and we need to introduce these. As a boy in the wake of WWII I was given many real heroes and none were ‘super man’.
- Teenagers need to rebel (appropriately with respect) and they need to find their authenticity. Teenagers are failing in both areas badly in this age of materialism and no discipline or respect for self and others. We must teach teenagers how to find authenticity. Sadly, many teachers and welfare workers have not found authenticity either!
Our most violent clients were always the ones in most pain. Punishing them without the other aspects listed above just pushed them further into pain and then into their ego based behaviour to ‘defend themselves’. Males are particularly good at defending their ego game in their head and were quick to present themselves as victims. A long talk took the facilitator straight into their ego trap and I have seen so many counsellors fall into this. Males need to be approached through their hearts and guts rather than lots of words. Training for transformation to the higher self needs to be experiential, hard, dirty and real in an atmosphere of mateship!
To really do something positive about domestic violence and the rest of it, we need to get real in training boys to become gentlemen. Fiddling with the law or band aid courses etc. simply will not work!