Of course, violent individual behavior manifests itself either through violence toward others (e.g., swearing, sadism, killing)or toward oneself (e.g., suicide).
One reason for violence toward others is to get money, possessions, or property (e.g., land, house).
Another, more general reason has to do with ego, power, and control–the desire to use, manipulate, and control others.
Which is why some people ‘snap’ as in the case of a husband whose wife is going to divorce him, thereby exposing or humiliating him/his image, going to get custody of the kids, going to get a material settlement of some kind. His ego can’t stand it and he wants to maintain control over his situation, his marriage, his wife and family, his property, and so he asserts his control by ‘showing her’ she can’t do this to him. He will have ‘the last word’; he will ‘win’ and so he resorts to primitive instinct, killing her.
In the case of a wife with three kids who no longer has a personal life or much personal freedom, she, too wants to dispose of her burdens and regain control of her life and so she selfishly drowns them.
Ego, power, control. These three drive a lot of personal violence on an individual level.
On a larger level, the deadly combo of ego, power and control can be seen in cults, or in nations (e.g., Hitler, Papa Doc). The big three can destroy countries (e.g., Russia, Cuba) and people in large numbers (think WW1). Often there is, as I’ve said above, an egotistical desire for land and conquest.
Most human beings desire control over their situations in daily life. Some also aspire to the power to push around or control as many people ‘under’ them as they can.
And children often experience this situation/context, too, once they become more conscious of their ego expressing/manifesting itself–desiring as much freedom as they can get– controlling parents, other kids, teachers. They often rebel at a certain preschool age, wanting to be free ‘to do their own thing’ without the interference and control of adults. It all starts there, so to speak–this triumvirate discussed above applied to family or home, even at a young age.
So, if you want to get pretty basic in discussing human behavior, situations, nature, psychology, and choices, there you have it on a small and large scale–ego, power, and control.
On a personal level, I am as egotistical as anyone else trying to live their own lives freely from the power and control of others. Some of these I have long escaped (a 9 to 5 teaching job being controlled by principals, school boards, parents, and government–politics goes with the territory of work). Others I have not escaped (Revenue Canada quarterly GST payments and year-end tax, monthly bills), but the latter generally do not put any kind of serious crimp on my relative individual freedom.
Egotistically speaking otherwise, I am free, like many, to express myself through talk and writing. I am no longer restricted by educational publishers, though these tended to take their cues from me for 30 years which speaks to the amount of control and power I had with them in terms of textbook projects–all which I personally created and initiated.
As a teacher in the classroom, I benevolently used my power and control to maintain and facilitate civil classroom behavior and discussion. I taught students how to be autonomous, free, and powerful themselves through use of language in speaking, writing, listening, even viewing.
Though a servant of the system, I called most of my own shots and maintained a steady flow of creativity, sharing, and publication in directions I wanted to go. I can’t, on balance, complain about not having enough freedom. And I always exercised my own major life choices, retiring early at 52 from ‘the machine’, for example.
Now retired for 14 years, I choose not to have much to do with groups, crowds or organizations (except the Stroll of Poets which affords me enough opportunities to read, do workshops, and publish–again on my own terms). For it is in groups, crowds, and organizations that you often find the ego, power, and control games automatically. Someone always wants to control and use others, and to be the big cheese.
As for violence, it has never interested me as any kind of productive or humane choice In and of itself. One pities victims and helps if possible, naturally, but it takes certain kinds of unique helping, patient persons to make a difference in these cases. Alternately, I have always aspired to better, loftier things right from a young age: humoring or entertaining others, enjoying music and the pleasures of all arts, developing consciousness about myself, others, history, human nature, and Life.
I think of all the great geniuses who have influenced and civilized me: Michelangelo, Beethoven, Mother Teresa, Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, on and on. All those kinds of role models and inspirations who have suggested that being true to oneself and developing consciousness are much more exciting possibilities of Life.
These daze, in the space I’m in, it is not hard to avoid crowds and people I choose to have nothing to do with. It’s a luxury, in fact, knowing exactly what you like and don’t like; what gives you pleasure as opposed to what bothers.
I look around and see no shortage of people ‘pig-piling’ as Frank Lloyd Wright called it. But, occasionally, on the tube, I see some old geezer living in a solitary cabin with his dog, looking blissfully happy, far from the social world of ego, power, and control. Both lifestyles are choices after all. Yet my only-child heart, spirit, and soul will always side with the geezer who seems most content and satisfied with no falseness, no limiting roles, no power and control by others in his life. Human violence having become a complete non-entity and non-existent destructive force in his world by his choice alone.