Thrawn Rickle 44

Violence

© 1993 Williscroft

Several years ago the term “paradigm shift” came into vogue. Writers and lecturers explained to us what this strange sounding word meant, and before long this revolutionary concept became a new paradigm in educated American households.

And a useful concept it is. When I was conducting the research for my doctorate, none of us was familiar with the term, but we certainly ran into the concept. In every kind of research, certain underlying assumptions are made. Frequently, these assumptions are not even conscious—they just sit there below the research data, supporting them, we assume. So it was with a set of information underlying my own research project. To a man (yes “man,” there were no women involved in this project), all of us bought into these assumptions.

Several months and thousands of data points later we were all forced to reconsider these underlying assumptions. When the smoke cleared, it turned out that nearly all our original assumptions were incorrect. In fact, in several cases, exactly the opposite turned out to be true. In a small way we changed the world—a genuine paradigm shift, even though we didn’t know the word.

I have come to realize over the years that we humans frequently base what we think and how we understand incoming information upon incorrect assumptions. This can lead to needles delays and misunderstandings at best, and to disastrous consequences at worst.

For instance, ask a person at random on the street about the role violence plays in our society. You are likely to get a response that decries violence. Ask almost anyone how we can best improve our society, and you are likely to hear elimination of violence as one of the most frequently mentioned items.

In our society it is axiomatic that violence is bad, that it leads to serious consequences for society as a whole, and that its elimination should be a priority for every well-meaning individual.

Let us examine this concept more closely.

The Universe, we are told, formed during the most violent, chaotic explosion that ever could be. Today’s deep space environment is a cauldron of swirling plasma, deadly radiation—violence spread over unimaginable distances. Our own existence has resulted from a violent and chaotic collision with the Earth by a large comet some tens of millions of years ago, a collision that eliminated the planet’s dominant species type, paving the way for the insignificant mammal—and us.

We are today a technology based species. Nearly every significant step from “there” to “here” happened as a result of violence of some kind. Warfare—that favorite of human activities—more than any other factor, measures human historical progress. Nearly every technological advancement in our history has resulted from or been inspired by violence.

Far from being the scourge of society, violence may well be the single most important factor in our long path from savagery to civilization. If violence fuels human progress, then lack of violence may well result in stagnation and human decline. With this in mind, we should not be too hasty in our quest to eliminate violence from our society.