Friday, August 28, 2009

how do you define violence?

..."violence is not just a matter of dropping a bomb on someone or shooting a bullet at them or hitting them in the face. Violence is done whenever we violate the identity and integrity of the other. Violence is done when we demean, marginalize, dismiss, rendering other people irrelevant to our lives or even less than human. Violence is done when we simply don't care or don't look hard enough to evoke our caring for another." -- Parker Palmer

I share this quote today, because my daughter experienced this kind of violence first hand this week. She is a member of a class of citizens known for their extreme "meanness" - that of the teenage girl. Unfortunately this time the 'violence' came from someone who should know better. He is supposedly a role model. He is a coach.

Torn between wanting to rake this man over the coals and also wanting to be compassionate because I cannot know what has brought him to this place, I shall keep my public statements to a minimum. My private journaling, however, includes lots of spewing. I am livid to put it mildly.

How can the next generation grow into positive citizens when their role models daily inflict violence on them? How can we stop violence in the world if we do not stop it in our own homes & neighborhoods? So i must consider... How do I dismiss others without a thought? Where do I inflict violence by simply not caring? I hope you will consider this for yourself alongside me.

"headless" by lucy 7.08.09

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our children and their friends should be able to feel safe in their learning environment. Unfortunately this society is so out of control with "do what feels good for yourself--without considering the effects upon others." A stand must be made against "these" people not only to protect our children, but to show our children that these actions are NOT accepted and that we as parents will protect. My thoughts are with you. Love ya Kim

Anonymous said...

This is just what I needed to read today. I have seen way too much of the violence done "in the name of sport" and to my way of thinking it is very close to the violence done "in the name of god." Violence is violence, and the end does not justify the means. Thank you for opening up this volatile subject.
Shalom, Laura

tinkerbell the bipolar faery said...

I have recently has an encounter with violence myself. I had to challenge, and speak out, while several others did not. I did feel as though, if I did not speak up against a threat of physical violence, I was no better that he, getting more beligerent and make physical threats.

What disturbed me far more than the threats of violence I eventually received, was the silence of all the other bus rides that watched and heard the entire scene unfold.

Apathy is among the worse kinds of violence.

kigen said...

Lucy, there is not enough information to understand what exactly happened with the coach, but I hear you and I'm thinking about the ways I do not give enough to the "other side." I am in a bit of a war right now between my own aging process and the deification of youth in our society. Not because I dislike youth, but because I refuse to worship youth as an idol. I want to be a middle aged woman who is as vital as anyone else, but the superiority of youth -- IN MY OWN MIND -- is a false god I refuse to obey and am trying to fight off.

Because of your photo, I just want to mention the video-montage Christine had up at her Abbey yesterday. The image that stayed with me, as I mentioned to her, was the marble figure, which looked like a young Greek god, placed on a wood table. Thinking about it I unconsciously picked up my male cat (my little boy so to speak) and hugged it. The struggle I am going through is very complex. And I am sure most older women struggle as I am in one way or another.

lucy said...

hey kim--parker palmer used almost your exact words re: children's right to feel safety in school. thanks for your support and care! xoxo

laura--yes, violence in the name of sport is very similar to violence in the name of god. violence is violence. i am trying to figure out how to respond in a positive and non-violent way. it's really hard especially when the offended is my own child!!!

tinkerbell--thank you for your powerful reminder "apathy IS among the worse kinds of violence."

lucy said...

kigen--the details of the event were left out intentionally since at this point have only one side of the story--all i know is my daughter felt totally dismissed, demeaned and disrespected...something teenage girls are quite capable of feeling without an adult male reinforcing it.

it's curious how we idolize youth as you say and yet they are some of the most insecure beings on the planet (even though they swagger around with lots of false bravado). i think our best offense (if we need one) is to live vital lives and not roll over when others say we "should".

a friend of mine went to a volunteer opportunity last week. the women were moaning and groaning and seemingly giving into how society has defined what they "should" look like at retirement age. my friend said, "no way. not yet. i'm not ready to roll over." bravo for her and US! i would love to understand more of your struggle with the idol.

Barbara said...

When everyone cools down a bit, a nonjudgmental talk about the impact of whatever the coach did might be advised. I have had violent statements made to me by colleagues (even a student or two) during my career. Most often, I was the victim of deflected anger.

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Very provocative post and thoughtful responses. Aching for our children - our children collectively - was something I think I didn't pay enough attention to when I was a young mother. The problem is so complex when "protecting" our children from "those" who seem to have all the power. Do we make it worse or better for our children with our outward rage of the perpretrator's offense? I pray for your wisdom in the circumstances that face you now as loving and responsible parents. Your child is certainly worth your protection and your outrage!

xoxoxo

kigen said...

Lucy, in a very positive way you draw out my idols/ghosts. I am beginning to resolve them on this. Thank you.

Tess said...

Just want to say I'm sorry for the situation that you and your daughter are facing, whatever the details.

Geezer Dude said...

I was the coach of a girls youth soccer team for a while. I was not good at the game and the team's record was dismal. However, the same girls returned to play on my teams for a few years. I think they came back because they enjoyed learning that women can run, sweat, bump bodies, and work as a team.

I remember the time I was angry and was verbally violent against one of the young women. She had done something that hurt the feelings of my daughter, who was also on the team. I reacted childishly rather than as a thoughtful adult who should have been a proper role model.

I learned from the experience. I apologized with sincerity to the girl and her family. It has been about 30 years since that happened, and the experience stays with me. The girl completed the season and was an integral part of the team. I think she forgave me, but I still regret having been such an ass.

I share the experience to express my repentance for a violent act I committed 30 years, and also to provide a perspective to consider. I doubt that your situation is similar, but it might be.

lucy said...

barbara--a talk is definitely in order and has actually been scheduled with my daughter, husband and the coach. she is a brave young woman and wants to offer her perspective of the situation with the support of her father. it may take me a little longer to cool down, however, i plan on voicing my concerns with the athletic director. it is a long overdue conversation. we deferred last year, because we all feared retaliation by the coach. since daughter will no longer be playing, we need to give voice to the ongoing concerns we have for other girls under his "care."

SS--thanks for your support and for listening to my outrage in person. it helps to vent to others so i can be less volatile as i represent my child.

kigen--would that make me a ghost buster? :-)

thanks, tess.

geezer--thank you for sharing your heart and compassion here. i only wish this coach had the guts to offer a sincere apology. if he were a volunteer/parent coach as you were, i have a feeling there would not be much of a year to year return following. unfortunately, he is on the payroll for the local high school which leaves the girls under his tyranny if they want to play. some girls (& parents) won't put up with that, however, the price is ultimately not being able to play, but hopefully hanging onto self-esteem.

His Girl Friday said...

interesting perspective on the definition of violence. I'm sorry about the situation with this 'role model'. I hope this is resolved soon, and with a good outcome esp for your daughter.

lucy said...

thanks, hgf. the sad "resolution" is that for the first time in 11 years, our daughter will not be playing soccer. she and my husband spoke with the coach. it went ok. we'll see if he changes his approach with the existing team. hard stuff.

His Girl Friday said...

very hard stuff, with a life lesson for her perhaps wrapped up in there somewhere. :/