One of the ways that we define violence at Metta is “coercive action based on an illusion of separateness, or the inability to recognize oneself in the other.” When we do violence to another, the wise would say, we do violence to ourselves. To take that one step further, when we watch another person doing violence to another (read: in the media, TV, video games, in our family relationships, etc.), we also experience that violence ourselves. Violence is based on an illusion of separateness, but it affects us all as interconnected beings, whether we recognize it or not. Just as we can raise our tolerance to alcohol by drinking more, we can raise our tolerance to violence by taking more of it in.
Conversely, nonviolence is a force that reveals itself via an ability to see ourselves in the other, a realization of the non-separation between ourselves and those around us. Research on mirror neurons, though it is new and multi-directional (read: controversial) at this point, can help us to begin to understand the science behind this interrelationship between ourselves, other beings, violence, and nonviolence. This video, and the scientific paradigm of which it is a part, is worth watching, and worth developing. (The video is also available here.) Check it out!
A quote from VS Ramachandran in the video: “There is no real independent self aloof from other human beings, inspecting the world and inspecting other people; you are in fact connected…quite literally connected by your neurons…and there is no real distinctiveness of your consciousness from someone else’s consciousness. This emerges from an understanding of basic neuroscience.”
We really are all ONE.