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Why do people kill each other (and can't stop)?

Before all else, let's remind ourselves: criminals and security forces are not the only ones who kill people. They are joined by completely ordinary people who support these security forces with their taxes, and/or are linked by citizenship ties of some kind — and therefore, voluntarily or involuntarily, they are participating in the "rules of the game": the rules that are set by the authorities, the army-police, the president / commander-in-chief, etc. The permissibility of killing a person as a security measure is quite officially enshrined even in such a "humane" document of our era as the European Convention on Human Rights (as of August 1, 2021):

Article 2 — Right to life
1. Everyone's right to life shall be protected by law. [...] 
2. Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:
   (a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence;
   (b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
   (с) in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.

The question is why almost no one is able to (wants to?) change their mind and end this readiness to kill. Or at least admit that forceful protection by killing and maiming people is a terrible shame that needs to be eradicated without delay — from our minds and from life itself. Instead, we must seek and find bloodless and non-lethal ways to provide protection, and actively build a culture of non-acceptance of violence, etc.

Of course, we should not overlook those who are genuinely concerned and actively engaged in these tasks (see Nonviolence in Action: Methods and Approaches). But this cannot be compared with the amount of support for institutionalized violence.

What's wrong with us?

And this is the really scary part. We are accustomed to assuming that those around us are "quite good people." Not everyone, but very many. Smart, decent, well-intentioned. Able to show meekness, humility, mercy. Honoring the Gospel and praying to Christ. In certain circumstances, they might even be recognized as part of the "conscience of the nation."

But why are we not disturbed by the bloody means we use for our own safety? Why aren't we turned inside out by the killing and maiming of people who are just like us? Why have we clung to these murders like bees to the hive, and aren’t able to rub our eyes, look at our bloody hands, and quickly begin seeking, discussing, and implementing alternatives?

Reasons and assumptions

Below are possible reasons for this state of affairs. Which of them is the main one? — decide for yourself. Sometimes it seems that fear (of being killed or maimed, falling into poverty, hunger, disease, or slavery) is the explanation. Sometimes an inner lack of belief in God. Or maybe there are simply no teachers who are able to show us who we really are.

1. Just no time. People tackle the set of problems that are closest to them, almost without regard to other problems beyond that set. When you are always busy, whether your tasks are essential or unnecessary, you simply don’t pause to consider, with horror, the price that has been paid for your security.

2. Submissiveness. To get up and quietly leave — only a few are capable of this. To stand up and oppose — almost no one. It is difficult to acknowledge the shame of something that everyone else considers honorable or at least without shame. If even the most decent are silent, why should I doubt?

3. Never been shot. In the truest sense of the words — these are people who have never experienced gunshots and stab wounds, imprisonment and bullying and the most terrible consequences in the form of pain, treatment, long-term rehabilitation, lingering dysfunctions. All this is somewhere far away: troops, skirmishes, prisons, torture... And the things that are close at hand — security services and police with their weapons — are too close, they’ve been familiar from childhood on.

4. Psychological unpreparedness. Does everyone kill? Me, you, our friends, our neighbors? Blood, severed limbs, torn and burned bodies?! It just can't be. The brain protects itself from horror. Denial kicks in: "We don't kill, ... we only scare." Indeed, we do not kill so much as we threaten to kill. Which, by the way, is tantamount to murder itself. But the brain also rejects this; people do not want to be responsible for what they got involved in or were drawn into.

5. Fear of change. They feel that rejection of murder will lead to working on oneself — serious enough work that their whole way of life will be completely transformed. Another response: "What changes are really possible?" They anticipate resistance, they see no simple solutions. “We will have to go against everyone (or away from everyone), without any hope of success, facing threats of aggression and reprisals.”

6. A lack of teachers. There are no real teachers of nonviolence, no living examples, practitioners, contemporaries. No manuals, case studies, guides. Even the specialized field of "peace education" allows the killing and maiming of people as an extreme measure of protection. In sum, people can master the theory of nonviolence, but nothing is offered beyond that. Aside from the lack of teachers, there is no development of self-sufficiency, no motivation to go further.

7. Godlessness. Without recognition of the divine nature of every person, obtaining security from birth to old age only by way of threatening, maiming, and killing of people — what kind of God, beyond the god of indifference, can we be talking about?

This list is not exhaustive. Surely there are other reasons, perhaps more weighty than these. Write to us through social media or by mail: facebook telegram email

More on this topic: Nonviolence in Action: Methods and Approaches


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