Transforming Violence to Nonviolence: An Approach, Lessons Learned, and an Inspiration – A Positive from the Negative of the Charleston Church Shooting

Transforming Violence to Nonviolence: An Approach, Lessons Learned, and an Inspiration – A Positive from the Negative of the Charleston Church Shooting

Wayne A. Jones (Virginia State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2209-6.ch004
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Abstract

America can be a violent place. This country has a diverse population with a plethora of social problems including a significant level of violence that occurs in families, schools, churches, and other elements of society. Violence results in significant costs to family relationships, crime, health care, social services, education, race, religion and public policy. There have been many high-profile cases of violence especially mass shootings. On June 17, 2015 Dylan Roof, a young white male, fatally wounded 9 people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. What causes such violent acts? Are males more violent than females? What can be done to address the problem of violence? Violence often leads to more violence. Can a violent act, such as the Charleston shooting result in a transformative experience and outcome where the response offers lessons for a vision for nonviolence?
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Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who welds it. It is a sword that heals. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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What Is Violence?

Violence for all its negativity, destructiveness, pain, and anguish is a complicated enigma to define. It is similar to listening to two people provide their individual interpretation of what is beauty or what is art. The problem is what I define as beautiful or artistic, you may see as ugly or totally lacking in artistic quality. The same is true for violence. What one person views as an act of violence, another may say is an outcome of a disagreement that while troubling does not rise to that which they define as violence. What then is violence?

The most basic definition of violence can be found in any dictionary. The American Heritage Dictionary defines violence as “physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging or abusing…. the abusive or unjust exercise of power…. vehemence of feeling or expression.” The problem here is with the broadness of the definition along with the fact no reference is made to the recipient of the violence, which begs the question does this have to be a person. In other words, can an act of violence be committed against an animal? What about an inanimate object such as building?

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