Good Violence / Bad Violence

We hear a lot of talk these days about abuse, therapy, your inner child, life as a grown child of alcoholics, and the like . . . while on the other hand, at that point in my life when I’m having kids and everyone around me already has them, all these parents tell me the same story of how “Oh Yes, You Have to Discipline Them.”

Am I the only one who’s hearing both these things?

Am I the only one who has seen through to the first cause, the elusive but finally simple and obvious heart of our troubles? Hear me out, people, because I think I know what’s wrong with things. With, in fact, practically everything.

It’s not even new, really. All the information is available, all the data necessary for anyone to make sense of it all – but, unfortunately, this being a large, integral part of our problems, we can’t make sense of anything. That’s a function of repression. A modern, psychobabble concept, and for those rare among us that can and do read but haven’t heard it yet, I’ll explain it briefly.

Repression is the function whereby one or more of a person’s desires and/or needs are not met (or not even allowed to be expressed) and are therefore buried by the person, along with the pain, buried beyond consciousness. It’s a survival tactic, particularly for children, and it works. However, the main side effect is that the person’s unconsciousness of the pain and need remains, extending into the future and onto other people. For instance, if a person is obliged to repress feelings of say, helplessness, then that person will be unable to see or appreciate any feelings of helplessness in others. If the person can see it, likely they will despise it.

Did I say ‘brief?’ Anyhow, that’s the basic theory.

Now, I don’t really hold with what appears to be the lay version of childhood trauma at work. In the most unflattering, simplistic terms this theory has it that, in an otherwise normal early life, incidents of trauma can cause harm, causing repression to occur, therefore causing symptoms later, blind spots that leave us and those around us at risk and in trouble. Actually, put that way, I don’t disagree. It’s possible; I’ll give you that. But it’s hardly worth worrying about, really. Compared to the truth.

Anyhow, the theory boils out something like this: mostly everything’s OK, but you get some people who have problems and there’s a name for the great cause, and that’s abuse. Now abuse is, I think, having any kind of sex with children or with anyone who, for whatever reason cannot give full, conscious, free consent; and something I will diplomatically call Overdoing it in the old Discipline Department. Violence, in short, or better yet: use of Force. You ask me, this theory falls a little short of reality.

We, as a society, seem to believe in a two-sided kind of violence, what I will call Good Violence/Bad Violence. The idea of GVBV goes like this: if some private citizen takes a person and locks them up in his basement for weeks or years, then that’s illegal, immoral, traumatic, psychically and emotionally devastating. I think most people, and certainly most experts would agree. But, according to GVBV, when an old man in black robes in a legal position to do it sends someone to the giant cellar called prison, that’s supposed to do something positive for society (read people). Then we use different words; it’s not abduction and torture, it’s a deterrent. It’s not abuse, it’s punishment. The point here is we are talking about the same act. Unless you have the appropriate license, it’s a crime, and a wicked one; with the credentials, it’s a good day’s work serving humanity.

Morally, the problem is obvious. Wrong for you, wrong for me. Now, I know it would be turning the world upside-down to just adopt that moral stand, but that’s not my thrust, not really. The real point is in how we think about violence, or the broader concept, force. If we thought about it, no-one would really believe in GVBV like it’s portrayed on television, where the good guys shoot the bad guys, for, guess what, shooting people. Good murderers and bad murderers. Individually, I hope half of us can’t believe that kind of stuff, but as a society, we appear to.

When the awesome non-logic of GVBV is brought into the light, one can’t help but question it. If violence from an unlicensed, freelance source is bad, then so too is it bad from a sanctioned one. Now, so far, I’ve confined my argument to the justice system, but that is only a side effect. The other licensed source of violence is the real problem: child rearing. The rest, the justice system, the corporate world, etc., these are only fractal offspring: child rearing is the model, the base unit. What if GVBV is false? What if it is, and every act of discipline, punishment, and control ever practiced on us all, all of our pre-adult lives, had no good effect? What if it’s a simple law of nature that violence and force are harmful to their objects? That it’s . . . bad? And that our well-meaning parents and educators did it to us and we in our turn will do it to our children, believing in this mythical good violence?

What I’m saying is, there is no good violence. It’s all just violence, and it’s what’d I say, immoral, traumatic, etc. GVBV is a myth; it’s all bad violence, however well meant. This seems clear: we are never going to win our war on violence if we believe in the good violence we practice on our kids (and our criminals), and expect it to produce good things in them, and in the world. We sanction violence when we sanction good violence. We are continually supporting the very violence we hope to minimize by our good violence, for example:

We punish a child somehow, by hitting it, or by some more creative way of making it’s life less pleasant perhaps, not necessarily hitting, for, guess what? For, oftentimes, hitting, or finding a more creative way to make the child’s sibling’s life less pleasant. When really, we know the child’s violence toward it’s siblings to be bad violence, our identical, or at least analogous act qualifies for good violence status in our minds, because we are teaching them how to behave. This, ironically, is true. We are teaching them how to behave, but not the way we think. We are teaching them our behavior, not our ideals. According to GVBV, though, if there’s a lesson involved and the punisher is licensed, then the violence isn’t what’d I say, immoral, traumatic, psychically and emotionally devastating. No no no, not that kind of violence! This was good violence!

Again, I keep missing the point, which is the confusion that GVBV causes. Sanctioned violence, unsanctioned, with a huge gray area between . . . it’s anarchy calling itself civilization. Rules for me, rules for you, rules for the police, different rules for the very rich, and again for the very poor. In the preceding parent/child/sibling exchange, likely as not, the real issue was played out: the explanation. This is where the parent gives the lesson, “Don’t Hit your Brother. ‘Here’s the deal: you hit him; I hurt you (or more creatively make your life less pleasant), until you learn not to. This is me, proud of myself, teaching you not to hit.’” This is where it’s passed on, the belief in good violence. That was bad; this (identical act) is good. No wonder the world is full of people who continue to break the rules, no matter how much legal violence we use on them. It’s hopelessly confusing.

I’ll try another tack. We seem to think there’s a ‘safe’ amount of force and/or violence to use on children, you know, like ‘safe’ levels of pollution, or radiation, heavy metals in our food. Knowing full well the damaging effect of illicit violence – to the point where victims are awarded lottery-size compensatory payments – knowing that, we still think a little bit of it is actually good for you! A person needs discipline. Well.

Who are the most disciplined people in the world – soldiers, elite soldiers, say, the Marines? And what are they good for, what is their function, their job? That should tell us what discipline does for us. And if that doesn’t tell us, what about our children, in the cities, in the gangs? What is that but kids hardened by abuse and Good Violence, doing basically what the Marines do, that is, shooting one another over economic and territorial issues?

We have to really look at whether or not it really is that simple, that violence, force, is simply bad in any quantity, regardless of who is dishing it out. Like gravity, you know, it counts for everything and everyone; it’s a natural law. It’s an unlikable notion, but here it is.

We cause all the bad violence in the world by dealing out good violence to our children, that is, everyone, at the beginning of all our lives. In the name of education and socialization, we induct our young into a life where ‘Might is Right’ is the only truism, all the while selling them our concept of child rearing which is GVBV. Now, if the test of a theory is whether or not it explains more than the old theory, try this one on. Take it into your heart for a week or two; try to look at things this way. If the theory is good, you should understand more through it, it should explain phenomena that was previously not understood, or misunderstood. If it describes a pervasive, almost universal force, revealing its effects everywhere you look, then it’s a revolution in thought, enlightenment – but only history shows us those. Of course these things take time. Also, it would require that we face the awful truth that all those nice, struggling people who raised us – even if we don’t consider what we would all call abuse – unwittingly raised us up with all manner and degree of control, from withdrawal of love to force to violence to torture, and, and this is the killer, all to no good effect! I mean, if violence has bad effects, which it does, no matter who deals it out or why, which in all likelihood it does, then all that yelling and screaming and spanking and being locked in the playpen, and being sent to our rooms, forced meals and mealtimes, toilet training, all that did us no good whatsoever. In fact, guess what?

Remember? When we were the kids, and our parents pulled some of that parenting stuff on us (Boom! ‘Don’t hit!’), remember what we thought then about their ‘explanations?’ Well, we thought they were full of shit, didn’t we? And you know what? They were. We were right, then. Back then, at some point before we were completely broken, we knew ‘Boom! Don’t hit!’ made no sense. Maybe we even guessed that something had to be terribly wrong with our parents for them not to see it. And it did us no good whatsoever, did it? In fact . . .

In fact, it killed our spirits, separated us from our emotions, and the third crucial point, one often missed by bookstore psychological theory, it disabled us for rational thought. In the absence of any comparison and with enough force behind it, we were forced to accept, as our only working premise the logic of ‘Boom! Don’t hit!’, that is, of GVBV. The worst thing it did to us is that it made us into the kind of people who, believing in GVBV, will destroy our children the same way, conditioned, desensitized, brainwashed. Proud of ourselves for our use of good violence in raising our children. The kind of people who can do anything, even allow or support a state of war.

Although I’m not as concerned as some over the nuclear aspect of this conversation, that is, that the desensitizing effect of good violence might just lead to global nuclear holocaust, because frankly, I’m more concerned about this little problem of GVBV in child-rearing here, thank you. What did the man say? ‘The disaster has already occurred!’

See, if things are so bad here now that global nuclear war is a real option, then some kind of disaster of near-equal magnitude has already happened! By analogy: when you’re young and healthy, death seems unthinkable, no alternative at all, right? But when you’re old, sick, alone, suffering terrible pain and not long for the world anyhow . . . well pulling the plug gets less ridiculous. Newlyweds think divorce a horror, but a married couple with thirty years of unfaithfulness and resentment between them might see it as a godsend. Well, what kind of state are we in already that a nuclear war is a real fear, that it doesn’t look so impossible? Brutalized, desensitized, cut off from our emotions, and addled with the logic of good violence. Believing any horrendous lie that we hear in the absence of any example of logic or truth by which to know the difference.

Now, I ask you. In this state of affairs, can we presume to ‘teach’ our children anything but the twisted logic that ruined us, and can we still justify the force required to teach a falsehood to a mind that has not yet quit functioning? Any adult using any force or control to ‘teach’ a child teaches only one thing, over and over again: Might is Right. It comes, not only free, but first and foremost, with every other lesson.

This is the problem of nearly all parents: they are oftentimes horrified by the behavior of their children once the little ones have gotten their legs and their words, the parents being unaware, through repression, of the child’s previous abusive experience. What with cribs, playpens, forced meals and toilet training, by the time our parents can talk to us, we’ve already been damaged, well on our way to becoming either deluded, dangerous, or both.

Violence, good or bad, propagates violence, good and bad. Part of the problem is that there is no way to tell good violence from bad, because, truly the distinction exists only in our addled minds. Depending on the dosage one receives, one will draw the line at a different point when it becomes one’s turn to dole it out, as to where the good ends and the bad begins. We still do the bad on occasion, helpless to stop it, but at least then we are repentant, when we cross the line that exists in our minds. The real problem is the evil we do believing it to be good.

Because good and bad violence can often appear identical (because they are), the legitimate status of the good variety allows bad violence to thrive unseen and unnoticed on our streets and in our homes. Having taken this idea on, viewing the world through it, I’m convinced that at least some of the too numerous abducted and murdered children we’re all aware of were hauled away, kicking and screaming, in broad daylight. Likely there were even witnesses assuming they were watching a normal parent/child interaction. With any honesty, one has to admit it’s possible.

Now I’m not saying, “Ban the Good Violence Now” for two reasons:

One: we have a whole world now, populated with people raised on the old system, that is GVBV, both of the deluded, law-abiding citizen type and the outright crazy and criminal type, and without restraint, these people will make things even worse, things being as they are. Frankly, I’m afraid of violent people, and any we lock up seems a relatively positive thing. Consider this: once a person has been abused, it’s a long road to bring them back to sanity and gentility. We have all suffered it, and crazy, violent people continue to suffer it into adulthood: confinement in prison or mental hospitals and torture by their keepers as well as fellow inmates. This, this being my whole point, does not make them nicer.

Two: we would have to invest some of us with the power to enforce this no violence thing with what, guns and prisons? Kind of defeats my whole idea.

No, not more rules and reprisals (read punishments, read violence). But we must begin to move away from this largely unspoken and unconscious belief in the great lie of GVBV. We must stop believing that force and violence will be the tools to put an end to our social problems. They, by definition, once removed either way, are the social problems. Aren’t they?

1.R.D.Laing, Sorry, I can’t recall which book!

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There should be no punishment of children at all, period. Any questions?

I see a few folks are liking my posts here enough to want ot follow me, and that is terrific, but I must warn you – I’m running out of things to say already!

The title here states my position, and there is some elaboration in the posts, but I don’t see any comments, no questions or arguments. That surprises me a little . . . OK, a lot. On other sites, I get a lot of outraged comments and arguments.

I would like to maybe hear from anyone who thinks my idea here needs some more explanation, perhaps there are aspects of child-rearing that need some clarification in terms of punishing or not. I’d love questions, objections, a chance to talk about my favourite topic, so feel free, please. Have at me.

Punishment of Children as Domestic Abuse . . .

Punishment of Children as Domestic Abuse . . .

Authors: (of the above graphic, as well as the original descriptions of the phases of the cycles below, not in ALL CAPS) Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.  Last updated: December 2012.

Well, I’m just throwing this out there. Honestly, I haven’t spent the time and thought on this that I have with most of this project. It’s a bit of a reach perhaps, but one may have to admit there are some parallels between the domestic violence pattern and the pattern nearly all of us have been part of as normally punished children. It makes sense that any mental gymnastics one would use to justify dishing out unpleasantness on people, and making one’s self believe that from this bad can come good might follow a predictable form, so I’ve added, in CAPS (or in red CAPS), the ‘other’ cycle of domestic abuse to the above graphic, the Cycle of Parental Punishment:

THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE IN PARENTAL PUNISHMENT

The cycle of violence in domestic abuse

PARENTAL PUNISHMENT FALLS INTO A COMMON PATTERN, OR CYCLE OF VIOLENCE:

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence:

Abuse – Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior.  The abuse is a power play designed to show you “who is boss.”

PUNISHMENT – YOUR PUNISHING PARENT “IMPOSES SOME UNPLEASANTNESS” – THREATS, INTIMIDATION, CONFISCATION OF YOUR PROPERTY, OR RESTRICTION OF YOUR FREEDOMS. IT IS A POWER PLAY, INTENDED TO TEACH YOU RESPECT FOR THEM AND ALL AUTHORITY.

Guilt – After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what he’s done.  He’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for his abusive behavior.

GUILT – AFTER PUNISHING YOU, YOUR PARENT FEELS GUILT, BUT NEVER QUESTIONS THEIR USE OF PUNISHMENT. THEY’RE MORE WORRIED THAT YOU’LL RESENT THEM, THAT YOU WON’T LOVE THEM ANYMORE, OR ALSO THAT OTHERS WILL FIND OUT ABOUT THE FIGHTING IN THE FAMILY.

Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what he or she has done.  The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking responsibility.

EXPLANATIONS – YOUR PARENT RATIONALIZES WHAT THEY HAVE DONE, RESTATING YOUR MISDEED AND EXPLAINING WHY YOU NEEDED THE PUNISHMENT, AND WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU. THEY MAY SAY THEY DIDN’T ENJOY IT, BUT THAT YOU MADE IT NECESSARY.

“Normal” behavior — The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship.  He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm.  This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.

NORMAL BEHAVIOUR – YOUR PARENT DOES EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO REGAIN CONTROL AND KEEP UP THE APPEARANCE OF A HAPPY, HEALTHY PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP. THEY MAY ACT AS THOUGH IT NEVER HAPPENED, OR THEY MAY BECOME ESPECIALLY SWEET FOR A TIME. THIS PHASE LETS THE CHILD KNOW THAT WHEN HE BEHAVES, THE PARENT IS HAPPY AND NON-VIOLENT.

Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again.  He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he’ll make you pay.  Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.

CONSISTENCY AND DENIAL – HAVING EXPLAINED TO YOU AND THEMSELVES THE REASON FOR THE PUNISHMENT, AND SATISFIED THAT YOU’RE BOTH HAPPY AND LOVING ONE ANOTHER AGAIN, YOUR PARENT HAS REASSURED HIMSELF THAT HE’S DONE THE RIGHT THING, AND IS OVER HIS MOMENTARY REMORSE AND READY TO DO IT AGAIN, THE NEXT TIME YOU MAKE IT NECESSARY.

Set-up – Your abuser sets you up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where he can justify abusing you.

VIGILANCE AND CONTROL – YOUR PARENT PLACES A LOT OF RULES AND RESTRICTIONS ON YOUR BEHAVIOUR AND WAITS FOR THE NEXT TIME YOU BREAK ONE, SO THEY CAN HAVE A CHANCE TO PUNISH YOU AGAIN, AND SO “TEACH YOU HOW TO BEHAVE” AND “INSTILL SOME RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY IN YOU.”

Food for thought . . .

Abuse with an Excuse – Doctrine in short form . . . Part #3

C. Childhood Misbehaviours are Irrelevant

1. When we are punishing our children to teach them not to cause any harm in our lives, not to break anything, not to hurt anyone, we are causing permanent harm in our attempts to avoid short term and material harm. The damages of abuse and corporal punishment are long lasting, while the damages of childhood misbehaviours are, for the most part, either material or temporary, sometimes both.

Temporary damages are bruises that result from infantile violence or carelessness, or simply missed or disrupted adult social occasions; material ones are broken dishes, damaged or stained clothing or furniture – of course material damages can be either permanent or temporary; a loved glass heirloom is forever, a coloured wall until the next painting. Things like painting the wall cost labour and money, which, if it happens to a modern person living in debt, may be a permanent harm to their finances. Young children can cause real harms, but again, as in the previous section, this would only justify the damages of punishment if those damages were small and temporary, and they are not. The damages of corporal punishment (and it is my position that there is no other kind) are long lasting and impact every aspect of life. This, again, is well documented.

2. Childhood explorations and mistakes, when they go bad, can cause some damage, things get broken, caregivers and other children get bruised and inconvenienced, but for the most part, these are individual, one-off incidents, that is, single incidents, with a single instance of damage per case. If we consider that each instance is a learning opportunity, each instance can teach a child a single lesson such as the fragility of pretty glass objects, or the fragility of human relationships (when one toddler hurts another, and the other expresses his feelings somehow), we can see that trading any one such lesson off against a lifetime of suffering the damage of having been punished is a bad bargain. The long term damages of punishment would only be justifiable by considering that the damages of the child’s misbehaviour is also long lasting. In reality, the occurrence of a misdeed or a mistake by a child will rarely be habit forming. These things, dish-breaking, punching other children, do not become chronic if they go un-punished. In reality, punishing increases defiance and misbehaviour in the long term.

Abuse with an Excuse – Doctrine in short form . . . Part #2

B. The Cognitive Damage

1. Punishments/penalties are all artificial consequences, contrived ones. It is not really a simple ‘cause and effect’ phenomenon when some active agent chooses the effect for a cause. In this way, our contrived consequences are substituted for the real world, natural consequences a child may experience when he explores or misbehaves, and therefore any real world learning experience is circumvented. This is the function that is in play when we note, through many good studies that corporal punishment hampers cognitive development.

When standardized punishments are substituted for the nearly infinite number of random real world consequences of childhood exploration as well as misdeeds, the vast and varied learning that may have happened is severely lessened, and the only learning that does happen is artificial and contrived. This is definitive of serious arrested cognitive development. It follows that the resulting impairment of thought will vary, of course with many factors, but certainly with the degree to which a child is controlled. A child who has more real world learning experience will be better able to process information regarding the real world than one whose learning years held few real world mistakes and learning opportunities.

2. Of course, parents need to protect their children from extreme danger. Life and limb certainly take priority over individual missed opportunities for real world learning. These safety hazards are not the most common situations parents and children face, however, and this is not a valid argument for the use of punishment generally.

Some may say that children need to be punished to learn to obey in every situation, so that their obedience will be guaranteed when there does arise a hazard, a real threat to life and limb, that a child needs to be conditioned to obey so that he may be ordered away from a street or a river and will comply immediately. This, I would say is a valid argument only if this sort of conditioning didn’t have a serious down-side. I believe that the damages that result from punishing, and certainly from the all-encompassing environment of punishment that this argument implies, brings a terrible cost also, up to and including a considerable cost of life and limb, in the form of violence, crime and suicide, along with the many social costs that are not as visible, that result from the cognitive hobbling that is produced by these methods.

Abuse with an Excuse – Doctrine in short form . . . Part #1

A. Damages
1. Abuse in its several forms damages people. The forms are these: physical, mental (cognitive), emotional and psychological. The damages have the same forms. This is well documented.
2. Corporal punishment also damages people, and the damages take the same forms: physical, mental, cognitive, emotional and psychological. This is well documented. The corporal punishment of children is being outlawed in much of the world, driven by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child.

3. Non-corporal punishment cannot actually exist, it’s a logical fallacy – an oxymoron, in fact. The argument goes like this:

– punishments are unpleasantnesses, they are by definition, something the punished person would not want, and so they are necessarily imposed, forced upon the punished person, against his will. Anything forced, anything imposed, involves either direct physical means, or at least the threat of physical means.
– punishments are employed when reason and talk – non-physical methods – fail, or are presumed to fail. This is often true, that these non-physical means fail, babies and young toddlers can’t be reasoned with, and even for older children who can be, punishments are usually only considered when any child is being unreasonable in the first place. When non-physical methods have been attempted and then ruled out, then logically what remains is physical, either directly or in potential.

Therefore punishment is impossible except that it’s physical. The only possible exception to this logical proof is in the case of punishments that are purely mental, emotional, or psychological, and these sorts of punishments are also universally considered to be unacceptable and abusive.

When children submit to their non-corporal punishments, this is not a disproof. It is only that the child is making a choice, the child is either remembering his baby or toddlerhood punishments, the physical ones, or more likely the child knows that if he resists, that the punishments will escalate and become corporal punishments, or most likely both, some combination of the two.

4. Conclusion: there are no non-corporal punishments. All punishments require force and physicality. Therefore all punishment is corporal punishment, therefore all punishment cause the damages associated with corporal punishment.

Following Your Heart

Sometimes, although the belief in punishing is present, people’s hearts aren’t in it, that is to say, many parents don’t punish, or at least don’t punish much, despite sharing the normal belief in it, despite that they don’t condemn their own parents punishing practices. Many simply don’t have the stomach for it, which is a good thing. Many of today’s parents have intuitively seen through the sham, even if not many have in a cerebral way.

I personally know of a family, which has a lot of the characteristics of a classic abusive situation, where there was drug abuse by both of the parents, with alcoholism and much anger, frustration, and ambivalence regarding his own parents on the part of the father, and co-dependent issues. The kids, though, seem to have survived it fairly well, at least there doesn’t appear to be substance issues or violence; they are in their early twenties now and seem to be making lives for themselves. In many ways, it appears that the marriage is a clone of the father’s parents’ marriage. There is the dad’s alcoholism, frustration and anger, and there is the mom’s co-dependence and compensation (some would say ‘over-compensation’) strategy, but the newer generation of kids seems to have suffered much less damage. The kids of the previous generation in the father’s family were pretty messed up. The difference is in the use of punishment, as far as I can see.

Whenever I mention this book to the younger mother, I get in the usual arguments, arguments I get a lot on this subject; she doesn’t see either that anyone punishes, or that there’s anything wrong with parents wanting or getting it all their way, depending on the particular point we’re discussing – but she never hit her kids, and hardly grounded or anything. There may have been a certain amount of compensation or co-dependence in that, an attempt to provide the kids a nicer life than they got from their dad, but he was forbidden any sort of physical punishing as well, that was her line in the sand. The upshot seems to be, despite all the typical elements of abusiveness – he was verbally and emotionally horribly abusive – there was very little in the way of punishment. That is the contrast from one generation in this family to the next, while the grandmother denies her punishing, or denies any extreme punishing, she punished, and her kids were badly damaged. In the younger generation, while the mother professes not being opposed to parental rule and the parents’ right and duty to do it, she didn’t punish, and the kids appear to have survived much better. All the while, the grandfather and the father appear identical, except the younger man was forbidden to use physical punishment.

This case seems to make a very clear case that the alcoholism and the verbal and emotional abuse being common, the outcomes were very different, and the difference was in the use of punishment. With no punishing, the children seem to have survived an abusive situation, while the generation that were punished show all the expected signs of abuse.

This is anecdotal, to be sure . . .

Pre-verbal Rage

For not punishing to help anything, it has to start at birth. Not much sense in abusing someone early and then removing the restraints. That is where we’re at now, that’s why the world looks like it’s all going to Hell in a handcart. We control our babies totally, train our toddlers with punishment and “non-violent” means, and then stop when they’re old enough to tell anyone about it! So we piss them off while they’re pre-verbal, and then beg and whine against their infantile rage later, neither them nor us understanding why our teenagers hate us. Ask them what’s wrong, they can’t tell you, and it can’t be cured, the rage comes from the pre-verbal period. That’s another huge part of the puzzle that seeing punishment as violence miraculously solves.

Punishment is a last resort, or it should be. Punishing a human being is the end of communication, it’s where we say ‘I’m done talking to you, have THIS instead.’ The implicit breach of personal trust and caring that comes with every act of punishment creates the situation for the next one. Once we’ve abandoned communication and resorted to physical aversives or “non-physical” aversives that are supported and facilitated by either physical means or intimidation, we’ve lost the better options.

Christianity: the Revolution that Never Happened.

This is the revolution, intended, I think, as a revolution in Judaism, that didn’t happen. You’ve heard it before, this below, from Matthew:
Matthew 5 (King James Version)
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

 

Here, Jesus refers to the Old Testament scripture, the traditional model for Hebrew law and punishment, and then issues the new Way, the revolution. He is making a case here, as in many other places, for a more forgiving and less vengeful God. More to the point for me, I think he made a case for a less vengeful and more forgiving Man.
(Jesus was surrounded by zealots, freedom fighters, or at least the leaders who talked them up, the hawks of his day, plus he was contested and marginalized by the orthodoxy, and the Herod clan. These conservatives had a good case against him, he was politically hamstrung by the occurence of his birth while his mother was still in “virgin” status, so Jesus was dealt the position of moderate, and moderator. The conservative, orthodox church leaders, if not the king, Herod, were to some degree aligned with the zealots against the Roman occupation, and so Jesus, pitted against them by his unauthorized birth, was also set up against the zealots, and so, found himself in the role of peacemaker.)
http://www.peshertechnique.infinitesoulutions.com/index1.html
And so, this new, more civilized code of punishment.

 

I think Jesus announced a model of peacemaking with these great words, and set a new model for society in general.
It seems that the Christian concept of a more forgiving God caught on; God is now seen as gentler, and far more loving that the punishing, jealous God of the Old Testament.
But the more forgiving Mankind?
Punishment is still the rule of the land, all lands. In the Western world, we no longer take eyes, or teeth, true, that has improved – but we certainly haven’t made it all the way to ‘turning the other cheek also.’
Not even with our children!
Jesus’ time was a high water mark for civilization, one of the few times his message of peace and rejection of punishment could have had a chance in the long, rough history of the world, but old habits die hard. It’s still Old School, Old Testament, when push comes to shove.
It may have taken two thousand years to hear Jesus’ message, but we are arguably at another high point of civilization, and it’s one of those changes, like quitting any bad habit, it’s always going to be a good change to make. The message is, get hurt, model peace. Prioritize peace over ‘security.’ Security annihilates peace. Take some lumps. Show the bad guys what it looks like to NOT fight, show them what it’s like when someone DOESN’T hurt someone.
At least show your CHILDREN these things.
Turn the other cheek.
Viva la Revolution!

He who is without Sin May Punish.

Punishment only counts as punishment when done by an authorized person. As it may apply to Christianity, who are the authorized persons? The purest version of the answer, of course, is God (Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord). Jesus, when placed in the position of judge, seemed to think no sinner qualified.

From the Gospel of John (King James Version):

8 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Interesting to note, Jesus also chooses not to condemn the woman, whether from his divinity and mercy or from his humanity and that he perhaps also counted himself among the sinners, I can’t say. It is clear, though, that he was saying that no sinner should be condemning anyone, even when the crime is proven – they said she was caught in the very act – and even when the punishment is traditional and acceptable to the society. It is clearly the condition of authority he finds lacking here, and lacking in everyone. He tells the woman the lesson, ‘sin no more,’ and that is the end of it.
All men are sinners, and so Jesus appears to find no adequate authority for the definition of punishment, therefore the teachings of Jesus show that only God can punish, and so when people try, it can only be abuse.