COPING WITH EXISTENTIAL VIOLENCE: AN IMPERATIVE!
By Nwokedi Felix Chiemezie
The immanent reality of violence in the human existence is an inevitable phenomenon. Violence pre-exists humanity and it permeates every facet of human existence. In its Scriptural origin, the maiden account of violence is recorded in Rev 12:7-9 which its concomitant effect is the dethronement of Lucifer from the heavenly bliss. Indeed, the disobedience of Adam and Eve disrupted the existential harmony of the universe and brought in chaos and conflict. Sequel to this, strife comes to be and it is through this strife (sweat) that man acquires his food and through labour woman gives birth to her new offspring. The unsavory murder of Abel by Cain his brother heightened our subject matter. Violence attained its summit in the modern era when “man becomes the measure of all things, of those he says that they are, they are…” and those he cannot bring to be he uses violence as an option.
The deep-seated bogging reality of violence has triggered many scholars into adducing many definitions of violence and the possible ways of understanding it. Thus, The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy sees violence either from the physical, psychological, religious and natural perspectives. Elaborating physical violence, The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy asserts it as “the use of force to cause physical harm, death or destruction.” Psychological violence is taken to be any cause or infliction of several humiliations, deprivations or brainwashing. Again, any act of profanation, desecration, defiling or showing disrespect for something valued or something sacred is taken to be violence in the religious sense. Natural violence is an extreme physical force in the natural world as in tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes etc. We can see violence as a disruption of the inner harmony caused by physical, mental, spiritual and emotional forces experienced as isolating and threatening our very existence. From the above illustrations one can establish the law of universality of violence which asserts that the celebrated existence of violence cannot but be felt by all men. Existential violence is an offshoot of universal violence which emphasizes itself as an immanent reality in human existence. In this sense, we see violence as any influence on man which disrupts the harmony of his existence.
To tell the truth, the societal scene and atmosphere contemporaneous with violence is that of all embracing vicissitudes of human existence. Thus, violence rears its ugly head in all facets of life ranging from home, schools, market places, among different religions and in government offices, etc. Generally, violence leads to loss of lives and properties, wastage of economic resources, meltdown of commercial activities, despair, etc. Think of the Biafran War of 6th July 1967-January 1970. Bribery and corruption, theft, kidnapping, accidents etc are deviants of violence. Each human person enters the world with an alarming cry “uwa ao, uwa ao, uwa ao”(this world, this world, this world) which connotes that man from birth is exposed to the uneasiness of life. Eating, travelling, reading, playing etc are all avenues through which man can ease off the monotonous grind of everyday’s life. Unfortunately, these are not left without risks since any unprecedented effect might emerge in the process of these. No wonder Ortega Gasset submits that the situation of man is basically disoriented. Adding luster to this Ortega admits that “the choice of what to do makes man an uneasy creature, a shipwreck constantly seeking anchorage. The above fact notwithstanding, many tend to repress the existential imperative of any form or forms of violence in our lives.
Thus, the language NOT MY PORTION is a very celebrated one in the new generation churches. Unfortunately, the non striving person who elects to avoid problems actually creates new ones. To clamour for a problem free life is an elusive fantacy; nay, a mirage in the desert. Resonating with Robert Schuller, when plagued with violence we shall strive to fix the problem bearing in mind that “tough times never last but tough people do.”
Having established the alarming inevitability of violence in human existence and its deviations, just like Kant, let us pause for a while and look at the salient question pertaining to the best way of coping with the existential violence. Thus in his book, “The Mind of Africa” William Abraham asserts that “the progress of mankind will depend on his ability to appreciate problems and solve them.” Thus, in Ortegarian estimation man becomes authentic when he realizes his deep-rootedness in disorientation and strives towards the amelioration of his conditions. Acceptance of this stark reality is the first step towards coping with and solving these immanent realities of life. In doing this, we must agree with Jean Jacques Rousseau that “man is free but everywhere in chains.” Therefore, following Mother Theresa of Calculta, it seems imperatively pertinent to confront our tough times bearing in mind that “he who fights and runs away lives to fight again”