I once overheard an interesting confession from a friend of a friend. This guy had been drinking and was admitting to his buddy that he just wanted to get into a fight, punch the next person that walked through the door, stir things up. That sort of thing. I complained to my companion that it was precisely this attitude that causes so much conflict in society and, though my friend agreed, he sheepishly added that sometimes he too enjoyed the thrill of physical violence.
I was reminded of the incident recently in a class on the origins of aggression when we read a passage from Journalist Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs. Buford spent eight years documenting violent episodes in sports crowds and riots. He wrote of the intensity of a violent experience:
I am attracted to the moment when consciousness ceases: the moments of survival, of animal intensity, of violence, when there is no multiplicity, no potential for different levels of thought: there is only one–the present in its absoluteness
If we really can find a sort of solace, release, or even satisfaction in violence, I think this says something about our race, and it makes me wonder if peace is really attainable. We may find it difficult to identify with violent people as we are now, but how would we react if a loved one were taken from us? Would we want revenge? Maybe revenge is the search for the relief that violence can bring however transient or ultimately tragic.