Saturday, February 28, 2009

What's More Popular? Violence or nonviolence?

Try this interesting exercise to see for yourself:
  1. Visit your favorite search engine
  2. Enter the term "violence" and make note of the number of articles returned
  3. Next, enter the term "nonviolence" and note the number of hits

I tried this on Google, searching the period over the past month, and came up with 140,000 hits for violence and only 400 hits for nonviolence. A ratio of 350:1! Granted, this includes the past several days where the domestic violence accounts of Chris Brown and Rihanna were the top stories, so the results may be a bit skewed this week. But still, what does this say about our culture?

Is this evidence that our culture values violence 350 times more than nonviolence? Is it just that violence, like sex, sells? Would people not pay for (and advertisers not support) newspapers that write stories mostly about nonviolence? Or is it just easier and more familiar to express our observations in terms of the negative - violence - than trying to reframe in terms of nonviolence?

One of the stories that showed up in my "violence" search was about a charity bash in L.A. to raise awareness about (and money for) "violence against women". It strikes me that we are already well aware there's an issue of violence against women, and that what we really need is awareness of what can be done to address violence against women.

IMHO, we need to change the conversation to "respect for women" or "nonviolent alternatives for expressing your anger", or raising "awareness of domestic tranquility". If this sounds somewhat cheesy, it could be a reflection on my writing skills - I'm a geek, not a novelist. However, it could also be because we're just not used to talking this way!

The Department of Peace being proposed in Congress (H.R. 808) would be a big step in moving us toward a culture that values nonviolence more than violence. For example, the legislation includes provision for teaching nonviolent conflict resolution skills to school children. How many generations will it take until the ratio shifts to 350 stories about nonviolence for ever one story about violence? Who knows? But it will happen a lot sooner if we put the Department of Peace to work for us now than if we keep doing things the way we've been doing them and expect things to magically get better.

Help support the shift! Contact your Representative now and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 808!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Geek for continuing to call attention to this stuff. Amazing ratio!