Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On Violence

On Violence, and Cultural Relativism

I´ve always been a pacifist. As an idealist, I´ve always believed in non-violence and in buddhist philosophy. I believe that if everyone in the world were to return to the source, return to a place of love, we will have peace. Peace IS possible. A conflict is only a conflict if both parties maintain that it is. If either or both decide that there is no conflict, there IS is no conflict. Unfortunately, reality looks a little different on the ground. Each place I travel to I see that different people have different realities, culturally, socially and politically defined. Yet we all create those realities. We all have the power to change them. However, in the reality of economic combined with authoritarian power, democracy and human rights seem to be far-off pipe dreams. In such a case, peace is not always the answer. It is, effectively, a fight-fire-with-fire mechanism that will be effective in order to keep the peace, ironically enough. In Chile, I have found the cultural relativist ability to understand violence. Within the context of all-pervasive exploitation and repression, the reaction is expected: if those in power do not fight the fair fight, why should we? Corruption, extortion, threats and violence from the state and the private sector generate the same among the citizens. They resort to illegal means to survive in the jungle of discontent. It is a discontent, distrust and disbelief that the “system” will work for them. The beautiful discourse of “transparency” and “participation” are nothing but that. Just empty words. Definately not the reality for most citizens of this country. Most people say that not much has changed since the dictatorship. True, there is no military rule, but there is no democracy, either. And now I finally get it, violence IS the answer. But doesn`t it just generate more repression? That is the fear that will prevent violence from occurring.