The emphasis on family violence should be viewed as just a starting point leading to cultural, systemic and structural changes in society to remove things that currently feed problems such as domestic violence, road rage and street violence.
Physical violence makes headlines because of the damage it causes. However, some forms of violence cause lifelong suffering by destroying the spirit, self esteem and confidence of people. These forms of violence can be compounded if labelled as weaknesses that people should just ‘get over.’ Anger, depression and resentment from this often lies dormant until alcohol, or some perceived injustice, brings it bursting to the surface, sometimes surprising the actor. Others may see it as unprovoked violence because it is not directly caused by people but by the way our society operates.
Family violence can be a symptom of a wider problem caused by injustices known as systemic violence, structural violence and cultural violence that appears ‘normal’. Study after study links this violence to a vague sense of frustration and ‘not being good enough’ that nags at some people and affects every part of life. These injustices form the breeding ground for headline surface violence. And this may be increased by inadequate or inappropriate education.
People decide to set up these systems and structures, and the injustice they build into them is unnecessary simply because it is a decision. People should be held accountable for the effects of the choices they make regardless of whether those choices are made in a relationship or in setting up social systems. A person’s background can make their choices understandable and may remove blame from them for making those choices but it doesn’t remove the need for accountability for the effects of those actions. People learn how to act in future by being accountable now.
The ever-widening gap between rich and poor is evidence of the injustices in society’s systems and structures. Our politicians know, or should know, of the many studies linking inequality to the frustrations that lead to the anger, depression and resentment so common in our society. People find it so difficult to cope and this is compounded by a culture of alcohol abuse. Politicians will only act to address these problems if people demand such action.
The claim that all people are equal before the law becomes another level of injustice when that principle is applied regardless of a person’s ability to pay. E.g. a fine of $300 imposed on the wealthy and on a pensioner for the same offense is a gross injustice. Being equal before the law is unjust when the social system it operates in is unjust.
It’s important to provide people with the knowledge and skills to reduce the frustration that precedes the anger, depression and resentment that so often leads to violence. However, more can be achieved by also removing the cultural, systemic and structural causes of the frustration.
My book, Travelling the Road of Peace and Happiness explores ways we can counter the effects of living in an unjust society.