I have a friend in Iran, about my age. She has a daughter who translates from Persian to English and Japanese. Because of the nature of her work she lives outside Iran. When the unrest in Iran happened a few months ago, I wrote an email to my friend to ask if she was alright. She said she was but what she was really thankful for was the fact that her daughter lived outside her country. Her mail ended with the ominous line – ‘had she been in Iran, she would be dead by now.’
The cult of violence is a dangerous phenomenon that has existed for centuries. It glorifies and promotes harshness and cruelty as a means to resolve conflicts, gain power, and inflict harm on others.
Violence and cruelty are not only antithetical to human progress and wellbeing but also have serious consequences for society as a whole. The culture of violence pervasive in many parts of the world today, leads to a range of problems, including physical harm, social unrest, and psychological trauma. There are countless examples of how violence and cruelty negatively impact human life and why we need to do everything in our power to stop them.
Women, children, and other vulnerable groups are often the victims of physical abuse at the hands of their partners or family members, leaving them with severe injuries and long-term trauma. The World Health Organization reports that 1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence.
Sonia Dogra’s poem, Callus, shows in chilling intensity, how women grow calluses around their hearts because of enduring the worst from their partner over and over again.
Violence and cruelty can have long-lasting psychological effects on individuals, leading to stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. This is particularly true for children who grow up in violent environments. Studies show that children exposed to violence at home are more likely to experience depression, PTSD, and other emotional problems later in life. Similarly, victims of bullying, cyberbullying, and other forms of aggression can also suffer from the psychological trauma caused by violence.
Perhaps Robin Ngangom describes it best when he pens, “ I hardened inside my thickening hide, until I lost my tenuous humanity.” (Native Land) or perhaps CP Surendran, when he writes, “ How freely you distributed your gift to us all, italicizing Our lives to a constant neurosis.”
Furthermore, violence tends to escalate and create a cycle of retaliation. When one person or group initiates violence, the other side often responds in kind, leading to a spiral of aggression that can be difficult to stop. This cycle can have catastrophic consequences, as seen in many conflicts around the world.
Why can’t we choose to resolve conflicts through peaceful means, such as dialogue and compromise? Why don’t we promote empathy, kindness, and respect for others as core values in our communities? Why can’t we build a world where violence is no longer acceptable, and people can live in harmony and peace?
Real-life examples abound of the devastating impact of violence on societies and individuals. In recent years, mass shootings have become all too common in various parts of the world, leaving communities devastated and traumatized. The individuals who commit these atrocities may be motivated by hate, anger, or desperation, but their actions only serve to perpetuate the cycle of violence and deepen the wounds of those affected.
The poems in this Issue of Usawa document powerful and disturbing responses to various facets of violence from our poets. We stand in empathy with what they have endured and expressed. And we thank them in all humbleness for putting pen to paper on this sensitive theme. A theme that at best, disturbs the mind, at worst, rakes dying embers to painful flames again.
Last but not least, before I end this note, allow me to beseech you all to never, ever, be violent towards animals. That to me is the worst debauchery human nature can stoop to – to harm a helpless, mute animal/bird.