How do we avoid violence? Martial arts primarily deal with handling violence when it occurs, rather than avoiding it. Sure, we can train things like awareness, and we can avoid scenarios where violence is likely to occur, but what do we do when evasion is not possible, and we are still trying to avoid violence? Teddy Roosevelt famously said that one ought to “speak softly and carry a big stick”. Martial artists typically understand the “big stick”, or else their art would not be martial, but what about speaking softly? In the below video, Bishop Barron argues that it is our inability to argue that has so often lead to violence in our modern age. Discussing why this is, he points out that epistemological subjectivism disallows any framework within which civilization can have a civil disagreement. Thus, without rules of engagement- might makes right.

Regardless of what precisely Roosevelt meant, most of us today are unlikely to interpret his reference to speaking softly to mean that one ought to be a skilled arguer. We are more inclined to take this in as an advocation of blasé niceness. This leaves us with a world where one cannot confront a brother, a co-worker, a fellow citizen, but instead one can merely state things nicely, and when such “negotiations” fail- one must resort to coercion. Thus the brother simply stops visiting his sibling at Christmas after “the time he said that thing“, the co-worker gets fired before he can give any defense because “his actions were not in line with company values,” and the citizen occupies, pickets, and/or punches his fellow citizen because “his ideas are intolerant…” From nice statements to violence action, with zero negotiation inbetween when disagreement occurs because that would require the ability to argue- a skill we no longer posses or value as a culture…

How can we avoid violence? Learn to argue: