Anene Booysen and Oscar Pretorius once again brought the violent nature of our society to the surface.
Many studies have been done on so-called ‘primitive’ societies that still lived according to their age-old cultural traditions before they were infiltrated by western missionaries and commercial interests. One thing that stands out in many of these societies is the absolute lack of sexual violence.
In her book The Continuum Concept Jean Liedloff tells of the absolute absence of any form of aggression or violence in the Yequana-tribe in the Amazon. She attributes this directly to the way these people treat their children: The children are breast-fed on demand for as long as they want to, carried almost permanently for a year or so by their mothers and others, and then trusted to follow their normal development.
What Robin Grill prescribes in his book Parenting for a Peaceful World, based on the last few decades of medical and psychological research, agrees completely with what Jean Liedloff suggested almost four decades ago.
When James Prescott was a researcher with the American Institutes of Health, he published an article called Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence, in which he directly related cultural violence to the extent to which (1) little children don’t receive the amount of touch and physical affection (including breastfeeding) they expect and (2) the suppression of sexuality during teenage years.
James Prescott once made the statement, “I interpret rape as man's revenge against woman for the early loss of physical affection.” He was eventually relieved from his job. His findings did not suit the industrial-military complex, which needs war and therefore aggression.
I am the last one to blame apartheid for everything that goes wrong, but it is a fact, unfortunately, that apartheid, coupled with commercial interest, played an important role in the disintegration of black family life. Fathers left to work on the mines and in industry and many mothers had to neglect their own children to look after the children of whites.
But it wasn’t only black people that suffered. A white culture of denial and suppression of feeling and sexuality, together with the pretence that we ‘had it all together’, was an ideal breeding ground for war. Many white war veterans and political murderers landed in asylums, while even more still struggle with trauma.
In his book The Forgiving Self, Robert Karen mentions a case of a father who came to see him about his sons’ aggression towards him, even though he had been such a good father. This man had to come face to face with the fact that his sons’ aggression was directly related to the way he had treated them. It was not easy.
In my own book The Power of Childhood: A Key to Life, Love and Forgiveness, I tell my own story of how I had to deal with my own aggression that had its origin in a family that appeared ‘perfect’ to the outside world. And with the guilt of repeating some of that behaviour in my own family.
Blaming does not help; whether it is our parents, our children, the whites, the blacks or apartheid. In fact, blaming others is merely the symptom of our own denied aggression. Understanding that such behaviour is transmitted from parents to children over many generations, and getting in touch with my own denied feeling helped me to find peace in forgiveness.
It’s a dangerous word that: forgiveness. Unfortunately the interpretation that forgiveness is an instruction from God as part of the demand to be ‘good’ is in itself responsible for much of our aggression. Oscar Pistorius’ intense bout of anger that lead him to kill his girlfriend, and Anene Booysens’ rapists and murderer’s behaviour may well have been related to childhood anger that was denied and suppressed through ‘forgiveness’.
Isn’t racism in all its forms but the projection of our own sense of inadequacy and anger on others (whether we are black or white)?
True forgiveness can only happens by getting in touch with our own feeling, re-experiencing our anger, hurt and frustration, and grieving. The more we get in touch with our own denial, the more we can understand and accept others.
Creating more laws and dishing out harsher punishments will not solve anything. It will only create even more pressure on our overfull prisons, which in and of themselves are further breeding grounds for crime.
In an article called Wisdom Politics, Marianne Williamson, famous author of Return to Love, wrote:
What we need is a new kind of thinking, and out of that will emerge a new politics – a wisdom politics – that reconnects the brain to the heart, and in so doing creates the possibility for breakthroughs that don’t otherwise exist. When we’re willing to make love and not economics our new bottom line, then everything will shift — from how we treat our children, to how we treat our earth, to how we treat each other. Our priorities will change, then our behavior will change, and then our world will change. Things will be possible that seem impossible now. We will transcend the powers of undemocratic forces in the same way that generations before us have transcended them: not with money or traditional political power, but with a better idea…a more democratic idea…a more enlightened idea. The conviction in our hearts will be the force multiplier that propels us forward. And then, as is often said: First they will ignore us. Then they will laugh at us. Then they will fight us. And then we will win.