Can we heal the culture of violence?

violence

The issue of violence is prominent in our community conversations at the moment. Terrorism, drug-related violence, domestic and institutional abuse, and even road rage are insistently crying out for our attention and solutions.

Despite serious efforts over many years to prevent violence, to deal with its effects and to punish the perpetrators, there’s now general agreement that violence will continue to escalate and to propagate fear in the community until we find and treat the real causes.

Fundamental beliefs that underlie and perpetuate all kinds of violence are: that humans have an animal nature prone to competition, self-preservation and aggression; that certain brain-based dysfunctions may be the root of addiction and violence, aggravated by abuse or neglect during childhood; and that there are deeply rooted social and cultural patterns, leading to a distorted sense of manhood and womanhood, that may take generations to change.

However, there’s evidence that these beliefs may be just that …. either long-held or fairly recent beliefs that need to be revised.

Drugs and alcohol are often associated with violence. People working in the police and community services speak of how addiction and abuse reoccur from generation to generation, and there is now general realisation that special attention needs to be given to the families involved.

However, there is some progress as communities work together to fight apathy and educate each other that this cycle can indeed be broken.

A retired commanding officer in the police force shared one such approach: “…anytime I knew I was going to a call related to domestic conflict or violence I would pick up the local pastor.” Often they were able to provide a spiritual viewpoint and connection that would later solve the problem.

It is often acknowledged that recognising a man’s spiritual nature has a healing effect.

Significant psychological research studies find that spirituality is not only helpful to, but integral to mental health. This is an important point in considering individual and whole-society wellbeing.

We may need to adjust our thinking about our real nature.

Another long-held false belief will be overturned by realising that the spiritual qualities generally attributed to women – such as care for others, gentleness, forgiveness and patience – and those qualities attributed to men – such as wisdom, truthfulness, tenaciousness and strength – are innate in both men and women.

Jesus’ ability to express both the fatherhood and motherhood of the divine set the benchmark for us. And like him, we’re actually “tuned in” to hear spiritual intuitions that will prompt, direct and uplift thought, although we may choose not to listen.

Knowing that no-one can be excluded from hearing and acting on divine thoughts can help to overcome violent impulses and begin to heal the culture of violence.

A pioneer in investigating the effects of our thoughts on our health, Mary Baker Eddy, recognised this voice as the ever-appearing of “the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)

When Susannah (not her real name) moved out of home and obtained a copy of that book, she just loved the way the author described the divine power that governs the universe as Father-Mother.

Her family had suffered violence at the hand of her father for many years. To think her father could be capable of reflecting the gentle motherhood of God seemed absolutely impossible. However, she decided to stop wrestling with this idea and worked hard to try to see him as reflecting this tender divine nature; learning that he was meant to be nurturing, gentle, tender.

Susannah was listening for the divine message, which replaced the macho view of her father and other men, with this new view of men. Her thought and experiences gradually began to change.

As the weeks went by, she learned that her parents had not had a fight in months and her father was treating her mother and sister with new tenderness. Eight years on, this is still the case.

A scientific approach to thought and prayer in this way does not whitewash evil deeds; rather it exposes the mistaken beliefs and causes them to be discarded.

Further changes in thinking about her own spiritual nature, meant that Susannah no longer saw herself or her mother as survivors of mental, verbal or physical intimidation, but as well-adjusted and balanced individuals.

She had no lingering emotional scars, but had learned truly to love and see the undamageable good in herself and her mother.

As Australian of the Year and domestic violence survivor, Rosie Batty, advocates, Susannah truly took responsibility for her own life, bringing vital change to those around her in the process.

Such approaches hint at the possibilities for healing the culture of violence in ourselves and in the community.

This article was published on 40 APN news sites, including: Sunshine Coast Daily, Toowoomba Chronicle, Lismore Northern Star, Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, Mackay Daily Mercury, Tweed Daily News, Bundaberg News Mail, Coffs Coast Advocate, Grafton Daily Examiner, Gladstone Observer, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Gympie Times, Caboolture News, Stanthorpe Border Post

Honour ANZAC Day: Support a spiritual rebirth that beats PTSD

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Veterans beating PTSD through spiritual rebirth @Glowimages

This week’s ANZAC Day commemorations in Australia, New Zealand and in Gallipoli, Turkey, highlight the best of human conduct – servicemen’s and servicewomen’s courage, mateship, decency and willingness to lay down their lives for country and comrades in battle.

At the same time though, and in a quieter way, ANZAC Days are proving occasions to mention those who suffer trauma as a consequence of being embroiled in the devastation and brutality that go hand-in-hand with war. It is estimated that upwards of 30% of all serving Australian defence force personnel experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).Continue Reading

Freedom from pornography is essential to health and happiness

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This year Youth Week in NSW announced their partnership with NSW Health for National Youth Week 2015, running from 10-19 April. Their website advises that governments across Australia are committed to improving sexual health outcomes and are making every effort to inform young people how to prevent sexually transmissible infections (STIs). However, the website states that they have stopped short at addressing the cause of the problem.

It is suggested that the proliferation of online pornography is compounding the problems associated with promiscuity. This article reports a surprising advocate for a pornography-free society, while asserting that knowledge of our mental and spiritual nature gives the ability to be an agent for change within ourselves and in the wider community.

Who’d have thought that the clearest voice to raise concerns about the film “Fifty Shades of Grey” would belong to Russell Brand?”Continue Reading

Is there a daily diet that curbs perfectionism, eating disorders?

A daily diet that feeds our famished affections

Four ‘trick or treaters’ knocked on our door on Halloween evening. Somewhat unprepared and surprised to experience this novelty in Australia I managed to locate a few sweet treats for each of them, and they left happily bubbling with excitement.

Was I frightened of their costumes or weird masks? Of course not. And I’m sure they didn’t believe for a moment that they’d suddenly morphed into ugly, wicked or ghoulish creatures, either.

Sometimes, though, people do put on an emotionally draining mask as they strive to feel accepted and loved. Over time they may come to accept the charade as part of themselves.

For instance, they may act out the role where they have to be the best … at everything. They can’t abide mistakes and feel it’s a badge of honour to say they’re a perfectionist. Ever in fear of failing, they may be chronic procrastinators. They don’t like themselves very much either, because they rarely live up to their own expectations.Continue Reading

Genealogy – a record of who we are, or not?

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It is fascinating to trace your family history back through the generations. Millions agree, considering the popularity of TV programs such as Who do you think you are?

I find it amazing that the well-known personalities who delve into the past are quite emotional about the heartbreaks, injustices and challenges experienced by their forebears, who they have only just discovered existed. On the plus side, this has led to healing in families when today’s standards and insights about race, religion, circumstances and nationality have been brought to the table.

Genealogy websites are just as popular. My cousins had traced our family tree back several generations. So, earlier this year we visited a family estate in Ireland and our namesake town in England and felt the warmth of belonging, despite never having visited before.

On the downside, shocking discoveries about forebears, such as a relative who promoted slavery, or great, great-grandparents who included criminals, prisoners, millionaires and paupers, all pepper family histories. Not to mention records of disease and mental illness resurfacing over the generations.Continue Reading

The essential ingredients for youth mental health

Time to talk about essential spirituality © Glowimages
Mental Health Week – time to talk about essential spirituality © Glowimages

The years between 15-25 are frequently a time of questioning and great discovery, but like many others I found them difficult. I had to deal with chronic disease, failure in my chosen career, a persistent lack of self-worth along with indecision about an alternative career path, and loneliness.

Although never diagnosed, a psychologist would probably have called me depressed.Continue Reading

Love can rewrite our prognosis

a kinder-hearted society

Out for my afternoon walk I was overtaken by a huge, gangly black puppy dragging along his owner. They brought a smile to my face and jogged a memory of my lovely little fox terrier-corgi cross, Tess. I couldn’t help contrasting the use of a body harness/lead worn by the pup and my use of a traditional collar and lead, which on reflection must have tugged constantly on dear Tess when we went for walks.

Things change for the better. A kinder-hearted society looks for and discovers better solutions.

I’m pleased to see that enlightened thought today is urging us to re-examine and move beyond Darwin’s theory of evolution and survival of the fittest based on an exclusively material view of the world.Continue Reading

Can a shift in thought boost not only Commonwealth Games success but future wellbeing?


Whats the spirit that makes you successful

If you’re from anywhere in the British Commonwealth, it’s fairly certain that the XX Commonwealth Games are in your thoughts right now as competitors line up with some of the best in the world in Glasgow.

With over 400 athletes hailing from Australia and a swag of medals already in the bag we are again asserting a claim to being the Number One sporting nation in the British Commonwealth.

One of our greatest Commonwealth and Olympic Games swimmers, breaking 400m, 800m, and 1500m freestyle world records, was Kieren Perkins, O.A.M.

When asked how he achieved such feats he answered, “Being your best is not so much about overcoming the barriers other people place in front of you as it is about overcoming the barriers we place in front of ourselves”.

As personal bests are beaten and world records fall, many thoughtful people admit that health, like sporting success, is about overcoming the barriers we believe — not just about what’s going on physically but what’s happening mentally.Continue Reading

NAIDOC Week 2014: Spirituality linked to better indigenous health

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A spiritual concept of ‘country’ is linked to health @Glowimages

Beloved Australian ABC gardening show host, Peter Cundall, is now retired. But when interviewed by Scott Stephens on Life’s Big Questions a year or two ago, he equated religious/spiritual teaching on a par with fairy stories.

It’s ironic really, because it seems to me that Peter’s joy for life and gratitude for every tiny evidence of good in his days is what has ensured his perfect health for more than 50 years. To me, this is spirituality in action!

I can see a similarity between Peter’s spirituality and that of aboriginal peoples. Continue Reading

Tune out the downbeat and ‘laugh, love, pray’ for winter wellness

Research says laugh, love, pray for winter wellness  © Glowimages
Research says laugh, love, pray for winter wellness © Glowimages

Are you sometimes mesmerised by the latest medication for the common cold on the TV? Fascinated by the computer graphics used to depict the symptoms and their soothing remedy being promoted? Impressed by the subliminal suggestion that responsible people purchase the latest advertised medication? Influenced by society’s bland acceptance of the assumption that colds and flu are unavoidable at this time of year?

Or are you often repelled by these downward tugs, loaded with obvious big pharmaceutical company backing?

Good thinking!

You’re part of a growing movement of individuals who have become more discerning and are prepared to take responsibility for their thoughts, and ultimately for their health and wellbeing.

“Your health care shouldn’t be all about drugs”, says family physician, Dr Chandra. They are just not the answer for healing and more consistent wellbeing. She points to considerable and repeated research that has found that alternative therapies, which recognise the influence of our thoughts and beliefs on our health, are far superior treatments.Continue Reading