Recently, when an angry man in a grocery store I was in rose his hand toward his daughter — no older than 4-years-old — and said, “I’m gonna slap your mouth,” I stepped close to him and quietly offered instead to slap his mouth.
Bystanders nearby had been shamefully hurrying away, keeping their disgust to themselves until I stepped in. But when they heard me, a few returned to back me up.
The man uttered a shaky apology and quickly went out the door.
It only takes one of us to start that kind of chain reaction — even a pacifist such as myself.
I’m against abuse and exploitation in all forms, but I understand there’s a part of us that remains very much an animal when called upon.
Children cannot fight back against abuse but I would certainly find it within myself to fight the pathetic breed of man that would hurt a child, pacifist or not.
I nurture this part of me too, and acknowledge that I not only know violence quite well but also, that if I’m being honest with myself, I love violence.
This has served me well in some situations. But, now, I want to rededicate it to serving someone else.
I have abandoned the law of the wild, as Jack London puts it, “to oppress the weak and obey the strong.”
We have to separate ourselves from the world of beasts by being civilized or we destroy ourselves.
London’s law of the wild from “White Fang” is too commonly practiced among humans though.
The men most timid in the face of the strong are often the most violent against the vulnerable.
Oklahoma is rotten with this predicament. Our most vulnerable — children — face terrible and common abuse.
According to the most recent reports available, Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services investigated 57,088 cases of child abuse and neglect in 2013, a significant increase from any of the previous three years.
Only 12 times was it the victim of the abuse who reported it. Most often, abuse is reported by law enforcement and commonly by relatives, doctors, or teachers of the child. Less than 7 percent of the time is child abuse and neglect reported by people without any connection to the children.
It is terribly uncomfortable but we have to step into these situations and stop them, and let abusers know that abuse is not socially acceptable. People refuse to react because nobody else is reacting. If we have the bravery to react, others might too.
The healthy mind possesses the mechanism that makes us want to protect children. But exercising repression of that mechanism wears it down until it no longer functions properly.
Parents lose themselves. They react too quickly and they hit their children out of spite and anger.
Not only do we have to be more willing to report abuse or suspected abuse, we need to be willing to intervene.
I hope others also can take the violence within them and use it so they may serve as a vanguard for those who might otherwise be victimized.