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Pondering the universe


Sanctioned violence is not noble

All throughout our history, we have had to defend ourselves against those who seek to dominate us or take what we have.

Each nation seeks to maintain their stability against threats, both external and internal, so we have standing police and armed forces to counter them. For these we specify the circumstances under which they are allowed to do what the rest of us are usually prevented from doing: kill or damage people. That we do not take lightly, as we generally do not want these forces to run amok.

We have to train people to kill, even if it is unlikely, but that is not what most people are predisposed to wanting to do. So we have to accept people who are comfortable with handling lethal weapons, but not so enthusiastically that they present a danger to us all. That is a fine line, and we have seen by the amount of police violence against unarmed civilians that that balance is not right. Even the most highly trained special forces units have issues with those who exceed their authority and take to torturing and killing prisoners and civilians.

In training those people to kill, we have the issue of how we treat them, considering that in normal working life we don't want trained killers among us. Most societies honour their armed forces, but there is also a large amount of glorification put into them, as if they represent the most patriotic of us all. Even criminal organisations cooperated with the Allies during WWII, just because there was a common enemy.

Parading armed forces down main streets is a ploy to work up patriotic fervour, but it is also a fairly ominous threat of violence against those who may have issue with the regimes in charge. That serves to maintain the status quo, even if change is desperately needed to institute justice and fairness. We have all seen the video of the lone shopper who defied the tank in China's Tiananmen Square in 1989. It represented how much effect one person could have, so ever since China has banned all mention of that incident so they could control their citizens' attitudes and thinking.

That is why the armed forces and police are valued so much in societies that are centred around the few that are in control, as they become the defenders of the gross inequality with overt threats of violence. They are glorified and made out to be noble, but they are really the agents of a malevolent infrastructure that corrupts societies and robs them of their capacity to serve their people. At the current levels of overt violence in our societies, we need these forces, but they must be respected, not glorified, as we need them to be aware of their proper place in maintaining our societies.

Unfortunately, there is a political divide between those who want to protect people from rogue police so they don't hurt people, and those who want to strengthen police forces to protect property and the more privileged. This makes it difficult to come to a sane consensus about finding the right balance. It comes back to what the two groups think societies are for, and thus what the police are meant to protect. The more wealth inequality, the more police seem to be needed to protect property from the oppressed who are systemically excluded from gathering their own wealth.

Pitting people against property because of the huge wealth inequality, instead of protecting people who seek a just distribution of wealth, is what is creating the problems in building police and armed forces that actually serve our societies as a whole. Partisan societies rely upon the police and armed forces having to choose to serve one strata of society more than others, and that is usually those who already hold the most power in our societies, leading to greater wealth inequality and more injustice. We must deal with the inequality so that those who are supposed to protect us can do so.

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