The Gradual Shift to Non-Violence

Clio LeungApril 24, 2023Violence and HealingInterfaith Connections

Artwork by Liz Fabiola, age 14

What exactly is violence?

According to Britannica, violence is the use of physical force with the purpose of inflicting injury. Violence can cause physical, psychological, or perhaps both types of harm. There are many instances of violence committed by people all throughout the world. Consensus among academics has shown that a number of factors contribute to violence, including those that come from the social or cultural context of the aggressive individual and those that are caused by current situations.

To be perfectly frank, I am guilty of violence too. My confrontational behavior has shaped a huge part of me as a person. I may not necessarily be physically violent, but I can get aggressive at times when it comes to an argument. Back when I was in lower school, this flaw was more obvious than ever. I've been told multiple times by many friends, family members, and teachers that my words and comments towards people were too harsh and that I should learn to calm down and think before I speak. As this flaw gradually turned into an issue, I realized that it was beginning to not only impact myself, but also the people around me. As a result, I started taking actions and searched for ways to approach this violence inside of me.

One of the most significant aspects of my life that influenced how I deal with violence is my school community. I am enrolled in a Catholic school where morality is valued. I was not raised in a Catholic household, and being a non-Catholic in a Catholic school makes me feel like an outsider sometimes. Whenever we attend mandatory masses, I can never relate to the prayers we recite. But, although I may not be Catholic, the values and traditions that my school community encourages deeply influence me.

Despite being part of this seemingly positive and peaceful community that everyone strove to maintain as a whole, I still got into a brutal quarrel with my classmate. When I was in fourth grade, my science teacher Ms. Wang assigned us a group project to work on. Along with two other classmates, I began to brainstorm for ideas and plan for our project. However, all the diverse ideas we had made me enraged. I was overwhelmed with too many ideas. All of a sudden, my group-mate yelled at me out of anger. Without thinking, I shouted back at them, pushing them forcefully. The next thing I knew the teacher was calling my name.

As we were on our way to the principal’s office, I already had a picture in my mind of what it would be like as soon as we stepped into her office. I imagined her face with an intimidating frown, scolding us and yelling at us loud enough for the entire school to hear, but, my sense of fear was unexpectedly relieved when I saw her sitting calmly by her wooden desk as she greeted us. To our surprise, she did not scold us. Instead, she sat gently beside us and told us the story of Jesus’s crucifixion. Over the course of Jesus’s crucifixion, he was beaten and tortured until he died on the cross. This story hit me particularly hard. At first, I was not able to comprehend why the principal told us this story, or how the story related to the situation. However, I was able to recall the lessons I learned from my religious studies classes where we were told that violence can do nothing good. Our principal wanted to show us how even though people were cruel and violent toward Jesus, he still taught us to show kindness.

Before this incident, I tended to struggle a lot with my anger issues, dealing with problems aggressively, and my emotions were uncontrollable. I thought aggression was the solution to all my problems. This is because my past experiences have given me the wrong impression about violence. When attempts to negotiate become ineffective and futile, I applied force in order to make others give in. However, this incident somehow completely altered my mindset. I am confident to say that I am no longer a kid who deals with problems using violence. To me, violence was a type of emotional outlet, but needing an emotional outlet can never be an excuse to hurt others. I was finally able to discern the fact that violence can only worsen matters. My opportunities to engage socially in my school community have taught me valuable lessons. Most importantly, they have given me the courage I desperately needed to confront the violence inside of me.

We are trapped in a world where violence is ubiquitous. This feeling of helplessness engulfs me whenever I see people suffer and die from wars or any sort of violence. People nowadays appear to be promoting peace and love, but their actions seem to make their words ironic. As kids we may think that our efforts to end violence are futile, but our own small communities can be a great place to start. Together, we can make a significant difference.

Source: Jacquin, Kristine M. “Violence | Behavior” Britannica, January 27, 2017.

Clio Leung is a 13 year-old living in Taipei, Taiwan. She enjoys drawing and playing games during her free time.