Friday, October 27, 2006

Nothing is as violent as love

"Man's destructive hand spares nothing that lives; he kills to feed himself, he kills to clothe himself, he kills to adorn himself, he kills to attack, he kills to defend himself, he kills to instruct himself, he kills to amuse himself, he kills for the sake of killing." ~Josef de Maistre

The same area of the brain where the emotion of passion originates is also the same region where the drive for revenge is located. Love and violence share the same part of the brain. This area is called the limbic region.

When we look at the “insides” of a gang we begin to see many things. We see what some call a brotherhood. What some call love. But yet gangs can be very violent. Even getting into most gangs involves acts of violence. Often this violence is perpetrated on the one being initiated into the gang. The one who craves love and belonging so much he is willing to be beaten for it. And even die for it. This love…

Or what he thinks love is.

This limbic region of the brain where rage and love exist and fight each other for control is epitomized in gang and other deviant group psychology. When a rival kills a gang member the entire group craves revenge. This part of them that felt a sense of love for their fallen member gives way to the competing force of nature, vengeance.

It is left over from our tribal days. In pre-historic times where groups of people had to depend on each other for survival and fought any who would threaten the existence of the group. What may seem selfless can also be seen as selfish. Without the group, the individual will die.

The search for love drives us to do many things. It drives some to sacrifice themselves for others. It drives others to kill.

But it is often our own confusion, not our brain’s. We confuse love and rage. Passion and vengeance. What we think is love may truly be born of fear. Does the brain drive our actions? Or do we drive the brain? Probably the latter.

We become obsessed with wanting attention, to be desired, to have belonging. People starve themselves to look like models. People drink when they don’t really want to because their “friends” are doing it. People get online and forsake their marriage vows for the attention of some virtual pig that does not care if he destroys a family. Rather than fix their marriages people lay down with someone who considers them a notch on their belt because it makes them “feel” wanted. Betrayal of love all too easily activates its dormant neighbor in the brain, vengeance.

Most people who go into their workplace and kill people, recently suffered a separation from a wife or girlfriend. It doesn’t justify it. But it is an example of how one can bleed into the other.

Passion can kill. What begins as love, if betrayed, can transform itself into utter darkness. The arms that once embraced, are used to strangle. The hands that once held another’s pick up a gun. When love dies, it is resurrected into something else.

Commitment to another whether that “another” is good or bad can drive us to extremes. It is important that who we choose to love does not embrace violence and betrayal.

Because nothing is more violent than love.