For those of us committed to systematically reducing and, one day,
ending human violence, it is vital to understand what is causing and
driving it so that effective strategies can be developed for dealing
with violence in its myriad contexts. For an understanding of the
fundamental cause of violence, see 'Why Violence?'

However, while we can tackle violence at its source by each of us making
and implementing 'My Promise to Children',
the widespread violence in our world is driven by just one factor: fear
or, more accurately, terror. And I am not talking about jihadist terror
or even the terror caused by US warmaking. Let me explain, starting from
the beginning.

The person who is fearless has no use for violence and has no trouble
achieving their goals, including their own defence, without it. But
fearlessness is a state that few humans would claim. Hence violence is

Moreover, once someone is afraid, they will be less likely to perceive
the truth behind the delusions with which they are presented. They will
also be less able to access and rely on other mental functions, such as
conscience and intelligence, to decide their course of action in any
context. Worse still, the range of their possible responses to perceived
threats will be extremely limited. And they will be more easily
mobilized to support or even participate in violence, in the delusional
belief that this will make them safe.

For reasons such as these, it is useful for political and corporate
elites to keep us in a state of fear: social control is much easier in
this context. But so is profit maximization. And the most profitable
enterprise on the planet is violence. In essence then: more violence
leads to more fear making it easier to gain greater social control to
inflict more violence.... And starting early, by terrorizing children,
is the most efficient way to initiate and maintain this cycle. See 'Why
Violence?' and 'Fearless Psychology and
Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice'.

So, for example, if you think the massive number of police killings of
innocent civilians in the United States – see 'Killed by Police' and 'The Counted: People killed by police in
the US' –
is a problem, you are not considering it from the perspective of
maintaining elite social control and maximizing corporate profit. Police
killings of innocent civilians is just one (necessary) part of the
formula for maintaining control and maximizing profit.

This is because if you want to make a lot of money in this world, then
killing or exploiting fellow human beings and destroying the natural
world are the three most lucrative business enterprises on the planet.
And we are now very good at it, as the record shows, with the planetary
death toll from violence and exploitation now well over 100,000 human
beings each day, 200 species driven to extinction each day and
ecological destruction so advanced that the end of all life (not just
human life) on Earth is postulated to occur within decades, if not
sooner, depending on the scenario. See, for example, 'The End of Being:
Abrupt Climate Change One of Many Ecological Crises Threatening to
Collapse the Biosphere'.

So what forms does this violence take? Here is a daily accounting.

Corporate capitalist control of national economies, held in place by
military violence, kills vast numbers of people (nearly one million each
week) by starving them to death in Africa, Asia and Central/South
America. This is because this 'economic' system is designed and managed
to allocate resources for military weapons and corporate profits for the
wealthy, instead of resources for living.

Wars kill, wound and incapacitate a substantial number of civilians,
mostly women and children, as do genocidal assaults, on a daily basis,
in countries all over the planet. Wars also kill some soldiers and

Apart from those people we kill every day, we sell many women and
children into sexual slavery, we kidnap children to terrorize them into
becoming child soldiers and force men, women and children to work as
slave labourers, in horrific conditions, in fields and factories (and
buy the cheap products of their exploited labour as our latest

We condemn millions of people to live in poverty, homelessness and
misery, even in industrialized countries where the refugees of
western-instigated wars and climate-destroying policies are often
treated with contempt. We cause many children to be born with grotesque
genetic deformities because we use horrific weapons, like those with
depleted uranium, on their parents. We also inflict violence on women
and children in many other forms, ranging from 'ordinary' domestic
violence to genital mutilation.

We ensnare and imprison vast numbers of people in the
police-legal-prison complex. See 'The Rule of Law: Unjust and Violent'. We pay the
pharmaceutical industry and its handmaiden, psychiatry, to destroy our
minds with drugs and electro-shocking. See 'Defeating the Violence of
Psychiatry'. We
imprison vast numbers of children in school in the delusional belief
that this is good for them. See 'Do We Want School or Education?'
And we kill or otherwise exploit animals, mostly for human consumption,
in numbers so vast the death toll is probably beyond calculation.

We also engage in an endless assault on the Earth's biosphere. Apart
from the phenomenal damage done to the environment and climate by
military violence: we emit gases and pollutants to heat and destroy the
atmosphere and destroy its oxygen content. We cut down and burn
rainforests. We cut down mangroves and woodlands and pave grasslands. We
poison the soil with herbicides and pesticides. We pollute the waterways
and oceans with everything from carbon and nitrogenous fertilizers to
plastic, as well as the radioactive contamination from Fukushima. And
delude ourselves that our token gestures to remedy this destruction
constitutes 'conservation'.

So if you are seeking work, whether as a recent graduate or long-term
unemployed person, then the most readily available form of work, where
you will undoubtedly be exploited as well, is a government bureaucracy
or large corporation that inflicts violence on life itself. Whether it
is the military, the police, legal or prison system, a weapons, fossil
fuel, banking, pharmaceutical, media, agricultural, logging, food or
water corporation, a farm that exploits animals or even a retail outlet
that sells poisonous, processed and often genetically-mutilated
substances under the label 'food' – see 'Defeating the Violence in Our
Food and Medicine'
– you will have many options to help add to the profits of those
corporations and government 'services' that exist to inflict violence on
you, your family and every other living being that shares this

Tragically, genuinely ethical employment is a rarity because most
industries, even those that seem benign like the education, finance,
information technology and electronics industries, usually end up
providing skilled personnel, finance, services or components that are
used to inflict violence. And other industries such as those in
insurance and superannuation, like the corporate banks, usually invest
in violence (such as the military and fossil fuel industries): it is the
most profitable.

So while many government bureaucracies and corporate industries exist to
inflict violence, in one form or another, they can only do so because we
are too scared to insist on seeking out ethical employment. In the end,
we will take a job as a teacher, corporate journalist or pharmaceutical
drug pusher, serve junk food, work in a bank, join the police or
military, work in the legal system, assemble a weapons component...
rather than ask ourselves the frightening questions 'Is this nonviolent?
Is this ethical? Does it enhance life?'

And yes, I know about structural violence and the way it limits options
and opportunities for those of particular classes, races, genders....
But if ordinary people like us don't consider moral issues and make
moral choices, why should governments and corporations?

Moral choices? you might ask in confusion. In this day and age? Well, it
might seem old-fashioned but, in fact, while most of us have been drawn
along by the events in our life to make choices based on such
considerations as self-interest, personal gain and 'financial security',
there is a deeper path. Remember Gandhi? 'True morality consists not in
following the beaten track, but in finding the true path for ourselves,
and fearlessly following it.'

Strange words they no doubt sound in this world where our attention is
endlessly taken by all of those high-tech devices. But Gandhi's words
remind us that there is something deeper in life that the violence we
have suffered throughout our lives has taken from us. The courage to be
ourselves and to seek our own unique destiny.

Do you have this courage? To be yourself, rather than a cog in someone
else's machine? To refuse to submit to the violence that surrounds and
overwhelms us on a daily basis?

If you are inclined to ponder these questions, you might also consider
making moral choices that work systematically to end the violence in our
world: consider participating in 'The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on
Earth', signing the online pledge of 'The
People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World' and/or helping to
develop and implement an effective strategy to resist one or the other
of the many threats to our survival using the strategic framework
explained in Nonviolent Campaign Strategy.

Of course, these choices aren't for everyone. As Gandhi observed:
'Cowards can never be moral.'