Violence and War changing lives and role of the State
By Dinesh V.K.
Violence in our lives
Violence can be an act or in thought. It could be demonstrated individually or collectively. This form of aggression may have many reasons or causes, but ultimately does more harm or yields negative results than good. Man is a social being living in communities and violence, although it manifests in many ways, cannot be an accepted part of civilised society. It has to be dealt with firmly or contained, if not totally neutralised. Therefore we as a society have formed organisations to organise and run our lives, individually or collectively, protected from serious violence. Here we will discuss broadly about how the state, the government and public sector play their roles to meet this challenge.
Here we analyse the corrective role of the public sector or state. It is present in the form of police, medical systems, judicial systems; educational systems and administration are for our internal needs of protection. Where as, the armed forces, military organisations and international bodies are for our greater needs of protection. As the violent behaviour and heinous acts increases, the role of public or state increases correspondingly. They need to evolve or transform according to the challenges envisaged.
Violence and Terror
Violence has taken a new manifestation in terrorism. Terrorism is a dastardly planned act of violence. Criminal elements have become involved in abetting such violence. Drugs, arms and explosives are part of this criminality. To deal with it, society now has gone to the extent of using resources of the military forces. So the demarcations and boundaries have thinned to a grey area. The state has to arm its police department with guns, rubber bullets, batons, helmets, tear-gas and more of such things to counter violence. Elite or Special Forces have been raised. And when things go worse the paramilitary are brought in, if available in the state. Counter insurgency, rearing up in many parts of the world has contributed to bring violence and terror into the lives of hapless people. More efforts, methods and resources are being put in to handle these challenges. The State and its organisations have a changing role to play. In this discussion we will be referring to the UK riots in some contexts.
In the UK, new acts have been passed and put into force owing to these challenges. The Parliament of the United Kingdom has passed the Serious Organized Crime and Police Act 2005 (c.15) (SOCPA), which has significantly simplified the powers of arrest of a constable. The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 has mostly come into force on 1st October 2006. Members of the agency- SOCA can be designated the powers of a constable, customs officer or immigration officer or any combination of these three powers.
Two months after the terrorist attacks in New York on 11th September 2001, The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 was formally introduced into the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Introduced on 19 November 2001, coming into force on 14th December 2001, it has since been replaced by the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.
Battling for Peace?
In the larger international realm, the state and public sector is involved in military situations. Response to organised crime and terrorism has now crossed borders and sovereignty. We now see the involvement of the United Nations, the NATO, the USA and others, in a fight against terror and dictatorial regimes. So we have military operations at the cost of human suffering active in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq. The cause of all this is that somewhere there is a conflict of ideology, interests, of perspectives and values. Again we see the role of the state and government becoming important. Only international forums can resolve these issues of such magnitude. But again, it is not the act of violence? Maybe it is justified and sanctified by socio-political objectives and gains, but it boils down to one thing- force.
Society must do introspection
That brings us to the basic question of how can peace be restored individually and collectively. Civil society has to answer this and play its role to redeem the larger society from the imbroglio. The answer lies in the individual, family and the society. The answer lies in anchoring a value system that cannot be commercialised or abducted by selfish or vested interests. The answer lies within the human psyche. Are not human beings becoming desensitised? Society has to re-examine itself. We have to analyse the value system that has evolved over time. It’s definitely not into the healthy model that it needs to be. Who are our young society’s role models? A very diagnostic approach is necessary. A remedy must be sought. We owe it to our future generation.
That brings into the picture the area of state or public organisations and their changing roles. The national health services and education departments have their role to play and can develop a reasonable solution. We will have to explore the areas of social psychology and mental health. Although the education system in UK is a devolved matter, the system can greatly influence the society and the value systems. A lot of rethinking may be necessary, but a beginning has to be made to examine both the personal and cultural value systems that exist today.
The society, individual and mental health
The work and contribution of social psychologist Albert Bandura will be relevant to our discussion here. He has been studying social modelling, observational learning, aggression and self-regulation since the 1970s. From his theories, role models can influence behaviour of people and particularly children are significant today. Children exposed to violent behaviour at school, at home or on media may believe anger is acceptable behaviour. This will reflect in their behaviour and it could have a multiplying effect socially. The work of Professor Albert Bandura of Stanford University focuses on self-directing and self-efficacy. The research helps us to address and redress the values of growing children.
There is surely some correlation between abuse, hate crimes and violent behaviour, which we find universally on the rise. Violence is a social and health problem of a unique kind that has to be addressed. Perpetrators and the affected should get proper treatment at a clinic or hospital. As the crisis warrants, a family doctor or school counsellor or member of the religious community should be involved for counselling and referrals. Therapists can help people of different ages by managing stress, conflict and anger. For instance, in the UK, the NHS Mental Health Services and Trusts are probably the kind of infrastructure that can work for the betterment of social behaviour and harmony.
Education and values
That brings us to the issue of upbringing and the formative stage of a growing youth. The role of education plays a major part undoubtedly. In most countries education is a state prerogative or at least under supervision and guidelines. Schooling is during the formative stage of a young generation. Parents and teachers have to prepare themselves to play a vital role. It is in this context that we should perceive the Bailey Review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood as an important insight. Are we not observing a value system that’s going twisted? We have to make corrections. Authorities responsible for implementing public sector benefits and educational benefits should start to rethink. The solution is not a simple one but perseverance will pay. The National Curriculum of England was developed and finally introduced in 1992. Except for independent schools, Free Schools, and the new academies, all schools in England are required to follow it. Northern Ireland and Wales too largely follow the National Curriculum. Scotland has its own distinctive and flexible framework placing responsibility on local authorities and schools. The state and public sector can make a difference under wise counsel to work to protect us from violence and change our living style for the better. We can all work together for a healthy and humane society.
For the good and betterment of the individual, society and state, we have to draw from the concept of non-violence. Non violence can be a philosophy of abstention from violence. It can be a socio-political tool for change. It can also refer to the pacifist approach of an individual on moral, ethical, religious or spiritual grounds. Nevertheless non-violence is often associated with the intention to achieve social and political change. Mention must be made of the decades of non-violent struggle by Mahatma Gandhi against the British rule in India. Martin Luther King adapted Mahatma Gandhi’s methods in his movement to win civil rights for fellow African Americans. We have seen the “Velvet Revolution” in Czechoslovakia that brought an end to the communist regime. We have seen the likes of Nelson Mendela of South Africa and Aung San Suu Ki of Myammar becoming spearheads of peaceful resistance against oppression. We have seen the non-violent movement of Leymah Gbowee with the women of Liberia. They were able to bring peace after 14 years of civil war in 2003. Forms of non-violence actually are based on strong religious, spiritual beliefs and political analysis. The society and state organisations can draw inspiration from this pragmatic if not ancient philosophy of non-violence.
Dinesh V.K., a blogger, who pens on latest consumer electronics, gadgets, shopping offers, free samples, market trends, politics, public services, health services and other informative articles.