Recently both India and US were shaken at the roots following 2 very horrendous incidents. There was a gang rape incident in India, and a mass murder in a school in US. Both incidents triggered severe public uproar and emotional reactions. In the US every news channel is talking about issues of gun control while in India it is all about teaching women self-defence. The knee jerk reaction has caused increased sales of guns and ammunition in the US, where as in India apparently martial arts instructors are providing free classes to young women and girls in the hope of helping them defend themselves in the event of a physical attack.
Most of the public seem to be very content with the outcome of their hue and cry. However I am wondering if this is a band-aid to a deeper problem which needs to be addressed from the angle of Mental Health issue. The easy tangible solutions are good only until another incident happens which will cause destruction to innocent lives, but the modus operandi may not be a gun or a rape. So will the public at that time stop to wonder if their efforts of stopping violence was wasted or are they going to attack another such tangible quick solution to the problem and rest till the next time rolls around.
Whenever we settle for the easiest tangible solution we always find ourselves in the same mess years later. We can kill all the terrorists of the world, but if we are not training the younger generation the message of brotherhood and tolerance we will see the weeds growing back again. Banning guns will only take away the weapon from law-abiding citizens, but bad elements will continue to amass it. The underworld criminals of India are prime example. If you knowingly or unknowingly get in their path chances of fatality or doom is very imminent. The more important question is: Does this mean crime rate is low in India just because there are no guns in common everyday households?
Here are some thoughts I have about the quick fixes of the society:
- Humans are humans everywhere
Good and bad is part of every society. Giving or taking away weapons or self-defence techniques will not curb violence unless our children are provided with mind training, compassion, empathy, respect, and humility.
- Train both young girls and boys the art of self-defence.
Self-defence does not teach violence nor does it just teach body building and egoistic sense of invincibility. Having learned Tae Kwon Do for the past 8 years with my boys. Having understood the art in detail. It is mind over body training.
The first tenant of self-defence is run away from the scene of crime. Never put yourself in a position where you have to counter attack. Your self-defence techniques come in handy when your mind is calm and you are able to plan your attack very carefully so you block and pin the opponent. That takes courage and presence of mind. In the case of the gang rape in India, may be if the boy friend was trained in self-defence things may have been a bit better, even then they were in the lion’s den, nowhere to run or hide, they had already put themselves at a disadvantage. In a case of gang rape if you are outnumbered the chances of defending yourself is slim to none even if you have learned self-defence. The predators of rape are mentally deranged with a false sense of ego and invincibility. Rape is a crime of power. They will do anything to humiliate and overpower their prey.
So what is the solution? The reason for suggesting that boys have to learn self-defence, and go through programs like boy scouts, or military boot camp is not because I have boys of my own. It is not of selfish interest that I suggest boys have to positively learn self-defence. I am a girl, and a women first. I am always vulnerable to predatory elements just as another women in the world.
The solution to decreasing violence is teaching future predators healthy living today. Teach the men of tomorrow to control their minds today. The effect of this would be that women with or without self-defence training can walk the streets fearlessly.
On the other hand teaching women self-defence has its own benefits of improving their self-confidence and assertiveness which in many countries in the world there is a lack thereof.
- Assertiveness is not synonymous to aggression.
Self-defence martial arts training teaches this lesson to every mind. Predators of rape are aggressive. If they had learned self-defence would it not have helped them curb their aggression and channelize their energy to something more useful?
So does it not make more sense to provide both boys and girls the art of mind over body training? When aggression is at its height boys resort to steroids, and unhealthy body building to manifest their power and visible virility. The idea of wanting to be invincible physically is unnecessary. Training the mind humility and calmness will help them seek other forms of activities to keep their mental state at an even keel.
- Martial Arts is more than just Self-Defence.
As a second degree black belt student I can relate the invaluable lessons of life my sons and I have learned over the years. To be promoted to the next higher level of training we had to write an essay on the following topics in succession. Focus, Enthusiasm, Goal Setting, Self-control, Perseverance, Integrity, Confidence, Respect, Responsibility, Gratitude, Leadership, Example in Leadership, Communication in Leadership, Acceptance in Leadership, Action in Leadership, Courage in Leadership, Vision in Leadership, Consistency in Leadership, Courtesy in Leadership, and finally an essay on Martial arts and my life.
We were also required to complete a voluntary project to earn each of our Black Belts. So why should this training be free to only girls. The lessons of life are so valuable that I can tell with conviction that my sons are better citizens for that training. The teachers at the Tae Kwon Do School hold steadfastly to these principles. There is no room for loss of control even if you are the best student in the class. Respect is of utmost importance. Rank matters but the higher rank students are expected to show compassion and respect to the younger rank students. Learning humility is a big part of Tae Kwon Do which will automatically reduce mental unrest and ensuing violence.
- Free knowledge is never healthy of both the student or the teacher
In Hindu philosophy Guru Dakshina or payment to the teacher is a big part of gaining knowledge. In the olden days the students lived in the Guru’s house (gurukulum) and basically did all his household chores and helped out the Guru’s wife as a way of payment for the knowledge the Guru was providing. It gives value to the lessons learned. Offering free lessons to girls only is devaluing the art or training. The outcome may not always be as affective as expected. So teach both boys and girls the value of the training equally.
- Teach every young boy and girl tolerance
The true meaning of martial arts. Our first lesson in Tae Kwon Do was to use the art only to defend yourself, your family or your country. Never to be used to attack or for predatory purposes. Never to attack even when instigated by the opponent. Again assertiveness is essential not aggression. Assertiveness develops through tolerance. Emotionally reactive people have very low tolerance thresholds to environmental triggers.
- Every action has a an equal reaction
If you deviate from the path of truth, godliness, or goodness there will be a consequence to the actions both spiritually and socially. So always think before you act. Do not put yourself in the path of danger or harms way if you can help it. Do not impulsively follow your egoistic instincts and hurt another person because sooner or later that karma will haunt you.
- Every soul is vulnerable to the bad elements in the society
Teach them young to protect their souls from defamation. It does not matter boys or girls, teaching them all the art of healthy mind and body living will decrease violence in the society. Don’t fall in the trap of boys are ‘physically stronger’ so they do not need to learn self-defence as much as the girls. That is a recipe for failure which will create false sense of security for parents of girls and the girls themselves, while the boys are running around amok with no vision to steer their souls in the path of light. This will not decrease violence by any means.
- SEEK HELP FOR YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS
There is no stigma in going to seek help for mental health. If your body is ailing physically you do not bat an eyelid to go to the doctor, but you think a hundred times before you seek counselling or medications for mental health. After all, the physical body exists as long as the mind is functional. So keep the mind healthy. Seek help without any strings attached . There is no shame at all.
- Ultimately Surrender
It is all God’s will. Surrender to him. He will keep your soul safe. Things happen. There is very little in our control. Pray that the path of light is always in our visual field and we follow the path with complete devotion. God will take care of us regardless of the incident or the outcome.
STAY SAFE ALWAYS, FOLLOW THE PATH OF LIGHT, AND SURRENDER.