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Circle of death: Dallas proves again that violence begets violence

Aleesha Matharu | Updated on: 8 July 2016, 22:28 IST

The Dallas shooting once again proves that violent acts are always answered with violence - a never-ending circle that history is littered with.

That five police officers have now lost their lives because of the prejudices and mistakes of policemen elsewhere in the US screams the truth of that basic human trait.

That a peaceful demonstration in Dallas against racial shootings by officers in Minnesota and Louisiana this week became a scene of carnage and chaos is such a pity as it will only serve to reinforce that cycle in perpetuity.

Also read -The year of wrath: when violence bloomed and the world suffered

The wheel keeps spinning

So on the one hand, while people marched peacefully with the intent of making their voices heard (in this case that #BlackLivesMatter), a small group thought it apt to take the law in their hands and kill more innocents.

What the attackers failed to have considered is that there will be repercussions for this attack. Sure, a few of them have been arrested and one is dead, but there's some black man or woman out there who will end up paying for their horrific step for no fault of their own.

Also read - Snipers kill 5 policemen during #BlackLivesMatter Dallas protest

"There has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement," President Barack Obama told reporters Friday morning. "Justice will be done."

We legitimise violence as a means of getting justice. But let's not lose sight of the fact that that is just good-old fashioned revenge. In the process, yet another person gets hurt and he/she eventually inflicts more pain on those he thinks are the perpetrators.

The system is to blame for a large part of this cycle because justice in most cases is elusive. When gun laws weren't amended and killers were left off citing "a lack of evidence", anger can get the best of people and force them to do the worst of things.

The grisly video of a bloody, dying man - Philando Castile - in Minnesota who was shot by the police went viral and was bound to invoke a level of helplessness by most. As would have the death of Alton B Sterling in Louisiana earlier this week.

(Warning: graphic content)

Yet it spurred others to action.

Obama has called it an "American issue": "When incidents like this occur, there's a big chunk of our citizenry that feels as if, because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same, and that hurts, and that should trouble all of us," Obama said in a statement. "This is not just a black issue, not just a Hispanic issue. This is an American issue that we all should care about."

But truthfully, it is an issue that affects the world, the very reason why world peace has and always will be unattainable.

Thanks to the easy hatred of someone who is not like you, whose religion, caste, political and intellectual beliefs are different.

That's why we wake up each day to yet another attack - be it ISIS terrorists or lone wolfs slaughtering people by the dozens, mass shootings in the US or violence against migrants. There are a million and one examples of cruelty around the world that can be used as examples where violence and revenge have taken the wheel and destroyed lives left, right and centre.

Take a look around

Here in India, there are examples galore. The demolition of the Babri Masjid led to the violent riots in Bombay in 1992-1993. The targeting of 57 karsevaks in 2002 was seen as the Muslim reaction to Babri. The deadly riots that followed were brutal beyond belief and spurred another generation of violence, anger and prejudices.

After the Brexit vote, the ugly head of racism reared its head in the UK after it received some form of validation and since then hate crimes have been on the rise.

Then there's the cycle of Muslim violence. ISIS is a reaction to last decade's war. Boko Haram is the result of atrocities and a lack of justice. Groups like these feed of anger, pain, hatred and ignorance. The feeling that there is no other route to punish those we hate or do not understand.

The more the West drops bombs into the Middle East, the more those targeted retaliate and so the cycle of violence continues.

And the innocent are the ones who suffer.

Meanwhile, the displaced pour across borders in their thousands trying to escape the atrocities committed in the name of god, or Allah, or democracy, or freedom from oppression, or whatever.

Whatever the "justification" taken, surely a god of any religion wants no part of this disgusting manifestation of all-too-human behaviour.

A world without hate

A friend recently narrated a simple, yet effective solution to the oft-asked beauty pageant question of world peace. He had once known someone who did his PhD study on the relation between world peace and smoking marijuana. His "scientific" conclusion was that if you sat the United Nations down and got them to smoke a 'peace pipe', there would be no other result but everlasting peace on this planet.

As much as it is wishful thinking, it isn't just a blase statement. Studies have shown time and again that people who are high are less likely to be violent. This is why you have never witnessed a stoned person initiate a fight - it's practically impossible to get into a fight when stoned. Marijuana usually has a sedative effect; it reduces irritability, increases happiness, and increases relaxation.

But beyond that simplistic answer, it is education that is the answer. Education must rise on the agenda of peace building so that people understand the idea of global citizenship in a world that is becoming more and more homogenised thanks to the internet.

We need to get this right to allow societies to escape the nightmares of history, to give young people every chance. So that hatred is not bred in the minds of the youth. It's a matter of creating awareness, and that should be a primary responsibility fro all human beings.

So perhaps we should just sit back patiently. Because that's the only way that we won't end up harming ourselves along the way - living steeped in hatred all day, every day.

Because at the end of the day - what goes around, comes around. We should just wait for karma to play its part.

More in Catch - Pulse massacre: With 50 dead, #Orlando is deadliest mass shooting in US history

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First published: 8 July 2016, 22:28 IST
Aleesha Matharu @almatharu

Born in Bihar, raised in Delhi and schooled in Dehradun, Aleesha writes on a range of subjects and worked at The Indian Express before joining Catch as a sub-editor. When not at work you can find her glued to the TV, trying to clear a backlog of shows, or reading her Kindle. Raised on a diet of rock 'n' roll, she's hit occasionally by wanderlust. After an eight-year stint at Welham Girls' School, Delhi University turned out to be an exercise in youthful rebellion before she finally trudged her way to J-school and got the best all-round student award. Now she takes each day as it comes, but isn't an eternal optimist.