How do we begin to address the scourge of violence in our community today?
One of the best ways is to love. Yes we know it’s hard to accept this, especially if you have been a victim of any form of violence.
But the simple truth is violence cannot be the answer to violence. Hate and anger will also not help us get anywhere.
You see to neutreulise the power of anything; we are called to use the strength of something that is its complete opposite.
And we know violence is driven by anger, rage, bitterness harboured over time that can no longer be contained and hate.
But love, compassion, care and being kind can go a long way towards solving our problems.
Think of it this way, would the perpetrators of violence have acted the way they do if they were shown love and felt loved in the first place? Would they have continued in their ugly ways if they had not been hurt, abused and subjected to the vicious violent cycle in the past?
We know countless studies have identified that hurt people will go on to hurt other people. The same goes for people who are angry, bitter and full of resentment.
So imagine how things could be different if we lived in a community where love becomes the norm. Where respect, care and kindness are encouraged as opposed to hate and anger.
The fact is when it comes to the ugly issue of violence, whether domestic, family, youth or whatever form, a lot has been said, written and done in an effort to eradicate it completely.
But if we are honest, we have to accept the truth that we have a long, long way to go. We say this because every time we get to have a look at the statistics, they are not getting any better. If anything, they become grimmer by the day so that unless we find another solution soon, all we will do is throw our hands up in the air and give up. It’s a natural thing to do when we keep banging our heads against the wall only to come up with the same result.
But give up we shouldn’t. For how can we? The future generations will hold us accountable for our failure to address an issue that has become so normal in the eyes of some people.
This week, the issue of violence is back on the table. Down at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, some of Samoa’s brightest minds – including Justices and Judges of the Court have been looking at ways to solve the issue.
The three-day “Empowering the Family Unit to Stop Violence” conference has been prompted by the increasing number of cases of violence heard by the Youth Court and Family Violence Court. The conference hopes to identify preventative measures and strategies that can be used by the Courts and other relevant stakeholders to combat violence.
At the official opening, Chief Justice His Honour Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Sapolu, said the conference is a critical part of efforts to address the issue.
“It is my hope, from that the discussion and exchange of views, solutions will be identified to combat the causes of criminal cases particularly violence related offenses that these Courts have to deal with,” he said.
His Honour Patu also called for a community approach to addressing violence. He said the notion that it is only for the Police and the Court to deal with crimes committed in society is wrong, reminding that everyone has a role to play.
“A start has to be made by someone at some point and with respect I think this conference is a good way to begin,” he said.
Well the Chief Justice is correct. But it shouldn’t be just a start; this should serve as another rallying call for action, a call for everyone to do their part.
Of course it’s easier said than done. Looking at the amount of resources and attention that has been given to address domestic and family violence over the past few years, you’d think we’d make a dent on the problem by now.
While we might have made some progress in some areas – especially in terms of initiating public discussion and raising awareness about the issue - we are a long way from where we want to be in terms of translating those awareness campaigns into fruitful outcomes.
Still we remain hopeful. That hope is deeply rooted in the fact that as a Christian country, one of the most basic principles of Jesus Christ’s teachings is to love one another – including our enemies believe it or not.
What is Biblical love?
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud,” the scriptures spell out.
“It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Perhaps this is what we should be talking more about today. Rather than continuing to magnify the problem, maybe it’s time we magnify the solution. Love we know is one of the most profound and powerful forces in the world today. And it can turn things around.
Maybe this is what every parent should be teaching their young boys.
This is what every church should be talking to their church members about.
This is what the matai leadership in villages should be discussing rather than looking for a hole to punish someone for a few lousy cans of mackerel.
We need to hammer this message home when it comes to relationships, whether its between husbands and wives, parents and children, villages and churches and so forth.
It’s time to do ourselves a favour, why don’t we start walking the talk.
Start by releasing forgiveness and by being kind to the person next to you. In many cases, that could be a husband, a wife, a child or your enemy.
What do you think?
Have wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!