Written by Jenn Sadai
There is a well-known Martin Luther King quote that begins, “Hate begets hate, violence begets violence.” It’s an old quote yet its value rings just as true today. In fact, there are countless quotes and clichés based on the principle that violence only causes more violence, yet it seems to be so many people’s first reaction whenever they are physically assaulted. Someone pushes you around, so you push back. One country attacks another, and war breaks out. For every harmful action there is an equal or greater reaction that inevitably escalates the violence to deadly extremes.
The same is true with bullying. Bullies who use violence to get their way often created a violent chain reaction. Eventually the person being bullied can’t take the attacks anymore and feels the need to retaliate. If they can’t physically harm the person responsible for the bullying, they take their suffering out on someone weaker or even themselves.
Many of the mass shootings in America were executed by former victims of bullying. The shooters were mistreated and excluded by society in some way or another, so they seek revenge against the world. They feel causing pain on others is justified because of the pain they endured. The violence they experienced warps their conscience and sense of humanity.
If the victim can’t bear the thought of hurting someone else, they may decide to turn violent against themselves. Too often we read about victims of bullying who lose hope and take their own life. They feel powerless and worthless, and think that suicide is the only way to escape the torment.
Love might be the solution?
It may sound naïve, but why can’t we ask the bully why they’re choosing violence and try to understand their motive? Maybe they are being bullied by another person and taking out their frustrations the only way they know how. If our initial reaction isn’t violent maybe we can break the cycle of violence.
Compassion or understanding is the only real weapon against violence even though it doesn’t always work. It’s not a guarantee, but it does give the aggressor a chance to evaluate their behavior. If their victim shows sincere concern and explains the effects of their actions, it could inspire a change of heart.
Unfortunately, some bullies are sociopaths or narcissists with psychological problems that are not easily cured by love. Nothing you do will change their behavior. If your attempt to show concern is met with greater violence, you must remove yourself from the situation. You won’t be able to break the cycle.
However, if you answer violence with violence, you can guarantee the response will be even more violence. At the very least, showing concern and compassion for the person inflicting the violence will create the possibility for a more peaceful resolution. Responding with violence won’t solve anything, but a little love can go a long way.
Permission to post by author Jenn Sadai
Jenn Sadai is a Canadian author and advocate who’s just crazy enough to think she can change the world. Jenn shares her stories of surviving domestic violence, depression, and workplace bullying in hopes that it will help others cope and heal. She is the author of Dark Confession of an Extraordinary, Ordinary Woman, Dirty Secrets of the World’s Worst Employee, and Cottage Cheese Thighs. Website