Hard Men and Hard Women: Step Back From the Brink

Share SALT News

By Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law

Sir Sly – Gold (betablock3r remix)


Each of us has our dream. Peoples have their dreams.

In every period among each people there are the hard men and hard women. The hard people see their path to their dream through exercise of violence. Whether with regret or with the joy of a gamer playing a videogame, they are fascinated by the use of violence to get to their dream. They feel impelled to use violence and portray those who are less enamored of that use of violence as cowards.

Violence raises its head like a Leviathan. It is not repulsed by the deaths, it revels in them when they are on the “other” side and rationalizes them when they are on “their” side or when innocents on neither side get in the way.

Their idea of their dream divides the world into those who share that dream and the others. Reality is reinvented as is history.

The spectacular violence catches our attention. But the countenanced public and private social violence within a society is the daily role of that Leviathan.

Violence feeds on our tears for the dead and injured. It feeds on the burned fields of wheat or the deadman on a street, a blown up building, a rockets scream and its crash into something. It feeds on the horror, on the abyss in the human soul that allows itself to call to that violence – to worship that violence.

Then there are those who try to speak across that violence. Whose only contradiction is to love across that violence. Even when the people they love hate each other.

Those acts of love can be as simple as a parent burying their dead child, the tears of a mother or father for their dead child, or insisting to the hard men and hard women that one recover one’s loved one from the cattle car on a nondescript train so that they can be buried at home with dignity. Of a doctor treating the injured whatever the way they received their injury.

The hard men and women revel in the instruments of violence and their exercise. Legal wordplay like religion are used as rationalization. Nationalism or other isms are deployed to rationalize the violence.

We have seen this before and we will see this again – the paeans to violence. And we will see rise in this space the interpreters and those who try to bring light on the contradictions in the manipulations done to our consciousness and conscience.

At some point, the peacemakers in the form of people and not missiles speak to the hard men and women and help them to step back from the abyss in which they are on the brink of plunging the world. We have little sense of how awful and horrible that violence can be across the world, but the peacemakers do have a deep sense of that darkness and try to walk their hard men and hard women back from the brink.

Acknowledgement, apology and compensation. Dialogue. Words that the hard men and women associate with weakness. Liberating words.

Send in the hippies. As a bumper sticker once said, hippies never started a war.