Children of lions, sons of tigers

Ruchir Joshi (The Hindu)

Violent ideologies tend to get hungrier for sanctioned targets, widening the definitions of the enemy

Physical violence is addictive and infectious. Like some deadly drug, once you partake of it you want a second (forgive the terrible pun) hit, and once you start doing it regularly you want more and more. With ingested substances your interaction is only with yourself, but violence always needs a target, or — if you must be libtardish about it — a victim.

Now, as your blow transfers from your brain to the hand that pulls off your slipper to the recipient, you transfer not only the pain but also the infection from which you are suffering. Perhaps not immediately, especially if they’re reeling from serious bodily damage, but sooner or later, the person who’s hit will want to hit back. If your target is dead, the infection will spread to their loved ones and comrades. Unless the victim and their associates take stern counter-intuitive measures, they will also become addicted to violence. Just as water or electricity have a way of finding strange circular pathways, the violence will come back to you, except now it will be you who is the target. When this happens, you may or may not recognise it as the same energy you once released from your hand; chances are you will feel victimised, will want to retaliate or pass it on to people you think are weaker than you.

Only receive or retaliate?

As children, the first people to hit us are usually our parents. The second bunch of perpetrators are usually kids our own age. With parents it is difficult to hit back, especially when you’re very small. But soon enough we learn the art and begin to enjoy its rewards: hit the kid who is smaller than you, hit back to stop the kid who is your own size, and so on. It is at this point that the parents’ attitude becomes crucial. How can someone who hits you tell you not to do it to others? What is their solution when you say another kid has hit you? Do they say ‘go and hit back, you’re the son (or daughter) of a tiger (or a lion) and I don’t want to see you again until either you or that kid is on a stretcher’? Or do they intervene on your behalf, trying by fair means or foul to make life hell for the other kid, who you might have hit? Or do they intervene fairly, telling both you and the other party to cut out the fighting? Do your parents teach you that violence is a bad thing, which is to be avoided? Or do they convey that violence is a way of life, and your general aim is to make sure that you do most of the hitting while the others do most of the bleeding?

Despite limited experience I would suggest that a human being has two contradictory reactions when he visits physical harm on someone. One is of pleasure and satisfaction; the counter-reaction is revulsion at himself. Now, it’s likely that he undergoes both these reactions simultaneously; or one after the other; or that one is immediate and its counter delayed.

Glorifying violence

Arguments about ‘human progress’ say that the more hesitation we feel before launching violence the better off we are, that the more regret we feel about having committed violence the more civilised we are, that the less we repeat the act of violence the happier we are. But then again, there are ideologies that keep emerging that glorify violence, that connect causing serious harm to others with protecting one’s identity, with notions of honour and self-respect, with ideas of pride in one’s manhood, one’s religion, race, ethnicity or nation.

These violent ideologies tend to get hungrier for sanctioned targets; the definitions of the enemy get wider, consciously and subconsciously. As a Naxalite in the late 1960s you could have started out aiming to decimate rich capitalists and ministers and ended up killing some lone traffic policemen for their revolvers. Or, you could have started out as a union-breaking outfit in a big metropolis, doing violence at the bidding of the factory-owners and politicians who were funding you; then the enemy could have shifted from the Communist union leaders to the labourers of other ethnicities who came to the city; from there the target might have become minorities in general.

A few decades later, as a young Maoist who had inherited the Naxal strain, you could find yourself attacking NGOs in your area who were undercutting your AK-47 ideology by fighting the mining companies non-violently. Or, as a descendant of the union-breaking goon squad, you could find yourself bashing up a minor employee of a government concern, showing no genuine contrition and then hiding behind the heft of your political party while trying to escape punishment. In both cases, the message from your masters, now standing in for your parents, would be the same: you should be constantly violent, it’s a good thing even if you make the odd strategic mistake, so minimise the regrets and the shame and continue to enjoy hurting people – you’re the child of lions, you’re the son of a tiger.

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