VIOLENCE - Nora Amrani


By Nora Amrani
April 20, 1999

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Excerpted from the book CHILDREN LEARN WHAT THEY LIVE
©1998 by Dorothy Law Nolte and Rachel Harris
The poem "Children Learn What They Live"
© Dorothy Law Nolte
Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., New York
All Rights Reserved

Today, in a Denver suburb, gunmen wearing black clothes, ski masks and black trenchcoats, entered a high school and began firing. They shot and injured some and killed others. It is noted that the gunmen belong to a high school gang, a group of outcasts, who call themselves the Trenchcoat Mafia. Not one of these kids had compassion for anyone else. Not only did they kill teachers or students, they killed someone's child, someone's brother or sister, an aunt or uncle, a grandchild, a cousin, a friend. One life affects so many others.

Has our society devolved this much that killing people for kicks is cool? Are kids are so angry or wo bored that they have to create death and destruction in order to feel alive and important, or for someone just to pay attention to them?

This tragic event touched my memories from when I was in high school and changes to our society, especially the appearance of weapons in school, began filtering into the mainstream. I was raised in a predominatly white neighborhood and up until high school the public I attened were schools were 98% white.

Just before I graduated high school in 1970, some students were beginning to bring weapons to school. This started when students from the East side of Los Angeles began to be bussed (due to a new bussing/integration program in 1968, named the Apex Program) to the West side for school.

I was part of this voluntary program in which I could go to another high school for two courses that were not offerred at my school. I did this for one year. While I was interviewed before being accepted into the program, not one teacher or school official asked me anything about my experience after the bussing program, if I found it positive or negative, what could be changed to improve it, etc. Nothing was said about the students in the alternative schools and that there might be cultural ignorance from both sides. So, while they were forcing integration and offering courses, nothing actually prepared students for it or what they might encounter. In fact, I couldn't even find out any answers to questions I had about the program and it's future. Then bussing became manditory.

Students began arriving at my high school from East LA. Yes, the East side of Los Angeles was primarily black and Hispanic and they were moving into the mostly white neighborhoods and bringing their way of life to ours. Some (NOT ALL) of them lived with violence as part of their lives. That is a fact of how it was then. Until then, we never had students with weapons on campus. We never even talked about it, as violence was not much of a part of our lives, nor did we want it to be. The only time we saw major violence in our city was during the Watts riots, and then years later as police attacked peaceful anti-war demonstrators and the assassination of RFK. But I'll tell you one thing, everyone in our neighborhoods knew one another and were responsible for one another. If a kid misbehaved one of the adults in the area would call the kid's parents, they'd give the kid a strong talking to, as well. It was not ignored.

In 1969, lots of things began to change in our school. One student had brought a gun to school, (and committed suicide outside of the school grounds with it), and others had knives. Now it wasn't just the boy's clubs who were acting out. Gangs were growing and becoming more known in school. Students became wary of even going to a restroom at school for fear that they would be attacked. It was a frightening realization in my neighborhood, which so rarely had any acts of theft or violence, to see these changes.

NO ONE discussed with the students what this forced mixed of cultures (who previously had little contact) would mean, give the students some tools or ways of understanding one another, bring respect and awareness that we are all one people with our uniqueness in our physical appearances or up-bringing. How could they when they didn't even know who they were? We see the same problem all over the world.

The schools didn't see that forcing integration without education on intercultural/inter-racial issues, was a major failing. Nor did the schools seek to improve the quality of the education and facilities in ALL the schools city-wide, which would not demand students be bussed elsewhere for an equally good education.

Of course, students who were being bussed resented it, and they were right in doing so. It meant (and it STILL DOES) that they have to get up much earlier, be driven many miles away from their homes, spend more time getting home during rush hour traffic, less time to play or do homework. It was also a slap in the face to them and their families - blatantly stating that they were lower classed, less equal, less deserving. How could it NOT set up bad feelings and create jealousies? How could the school board not improve the neighborhood schools instead of creating a bigger gap?

In 1968, our high school had one of the first sit-down demonstrations held anywhere. We did it to create change and it was peaceful. We all sat down in the main hall of the school and refused to move until the faculty and staff were willing to work with us.

The school called in the SWAT team and soon we were surrounded with violent policemen in full riot gear kicking us out of our school! Some message that was. We made the newspapers front pages (I still have the picture of me sitting in the hall from the LA Times) and the television news, and we did get many of the changes we wanted. But seeing the SWAT team on our campus ready to strike us for merely asking for changes in a peaceful way was a real knife in our backs. We also began to see what we were up against; a system that did NOT want to acknowledge us or be changed. Why was peace so threatening? Why was allowing us to be our own, equal, full humans, who wanted to create an educational environment we felt was important for us so threatening to them? Not listening to, and working with kids is the beginning of the end.

That was almost thirty years ago and it should have served a very serious warning of what was to come. However, it was pretty much ignored in spite of the fact that we were in the midst of the years of love-ins and pro-peace movements - maybe because the establishment didn't like that particular change we were attempting to create and still believed in the false macho, tough-guy image all Americans needed to keep presenting to the world.

The pressures on kids today, the lack of listening to them and their parents, and not providing them healthy environments and outlets and a well-rounded equal education, unfortunately, results in these vicious acts of violence such as what we have seen today. It's like a noose around our necks getting tighter and tighter. Our souls know that something is very amiss and people are striking out or rebelling without understanding that this is what is happening.

Now as an adult parent, I face the same crap in the school system. So, what can be the outlook for our kids' future on this planet? Not much has improved. Last month a nine year old boy ran out of class (the same classroom my son is in), and tried to jump off the second story balcony and commit suicide. I have heard more than a dozen youngsters - age 3 and up - say that they hate their lives and want to die. Is this normal?!

Forced bussing goes on. Kids are under more pressure to "perform" and compete today than ever before. Distingtions between "classes" are very strong. Those who have the means can send their kids to private schools. Those who do not, must tolerate the lousy public school system. Schools start earlier, last longer, have much more demands for homework and that means less family time. Less money in the school system, even with the lottery and taxes means they have fewer good teachers, facilities, programs, classes in the expressive arts, health care. More and more of our individual liberties and natural beingness are becoming outlawed. What we can say or do in public is being limited more and more. It's hard to say the truth, honestly state your feelings in public without someone feeling threatened, or you getting blasted for saying something. For goodness sake - when a young boy innocently kissed a girl on the cheek in school, just because he genuinely loved her and showed affection, he was accused of sexual harrassment! We punish acts of pure love! Has this society lost its higher mind? I think it has.

The past few years have shown more and more violence occurring in schools, perpetrated by the students, themselves. Schools thought they could curtail it by requiring that students in some schools to pass through metal detectors before entering the buildings. Students, teachers, faculty have been shot and killed, regardless. Sending one's children to school today is like playing Russian Roulette!

I'm disappointed and frustrated with the school system (and I'll bet your kids are, too), and have been doing my best to change it. I don't get far on my own, I have to tell you that. Many parents complain and yet remain docile, frightened sheeple - feeling that the school system, or psychologists, always knows what's best for our own children and they don't have the ability to make a difference. Together we can! It's time we take back control of how our children are being educated, or not educated as the case may be. Our educational system, and ALL of the "systems" are obviously missing some vital components which could help our children develop into some fantastic, valuable and valued people.

What are the causes of all these problems, and what are the solutions? What are we teaching our children? This increase in violence now is, I feel, caused by several culprits, including:

1. The lack of proper love and nurturing at home. Parents must clean up their own act and any abuse or neglect in the home, and create healthy relationships and develop empathy towards others. (Ask your child how they would feel in a situation that you're watching on tv or in a film or on the news.)

Children become what we teach by example. Remember the words from "South Pacific" about having to be carefully taught to hate and fear, and how we must hate the people our relatives hate? And that it must be taught before it's too late - before you are six, or seven or eight! all starts in the home and then follows in schools and religious institutions, media, etc. What is your personal experience of violence? How does it entertain you, release you? What function does it serve in your life?

2. Lack of attention, positive self-image, security, support or trust in themselves. Loneliness and isolation are the most serious and prevalent diseases on our planet. Community and neighbors play a big role in this. If we can help each person know that they are valuable and NEVER alone, that there is always someone to help, we can heal so many and prevent such tragedies as the one in Denver from occurring.

3. Lack of teaching our kids that they and all people are powerful, divine, beautiful, creative and special beings JUST AS THEY ARE, and can live up to their higher self.

4. Lack of a healthy place and way of venting feelings and finding solutions to problems. Not denying who we are. Learning to take responsibility for our actions. Actions have consequences.

5. Our school system who does not offer REAL education about life, nor a daily class in which kids can safely vent their emotions and be acknowledged and getting help.[Some schools have made positive changes in this regard since I first wrote this article.]

6. A school system that sends mixed messages to kids, such as, "we need to drug your child in order to be able to teach him or her," (what happened in the last twenty years to teachers who suddenly can't teach kids who are not dosed into near zombiness?), and then tell kids, "say no to drugs!" How can kids not see adults as lazy (maybe even selectively deaf, blind, uncaring, stupid) hypocrites when they live with constant non-sequiturism everywhere they turn? Some kids are just bored and ignored, not given challenges they need to love learning and grow. But that's often misinterpreted as having ADD.

7. The film, television (including the News), music, clothing and video game industries who continue to flaunt violence as if it were just a natural part of life and something to emulate, and make billions of dollars off of children through teaching violence. How can kids NOT be violent with these models - truly the worst kind of "programming." When cigarette commercials were banned from television it proved effective, and it is still in place. Why can't we do the same with violence?

8. Religions or ethnic groups that teach that if you are not part of their religion you're not equal and are evil, so prejudice and death to the others, or forced conversion through violence, has become "the way" to God! (Then there's also the blood sacrifices demanded by some religions. As if God needs you to shed blood to prove your worthiness, or that by killing those not of your religion God would love you more!) We were all created by and loved by God.

9. Misuse of our tax dollars.

10. Not using money in ways which would allow everyone to have our basic needs met, and more some,i.e. food, shelter, clothing, medicine, education. Those in our government who do not work for the benefit of all, by making sure that our basic needs are met, should not be claiming to represent what is our best interest. They don't deserve a governmental position, in my opinion.

11. The absurd message that we need to kill people in order to show that killing people is wrong.

There is something else we can do to be more in touch with what children and adults are feeling. Let's start really connecting with one another - in the open and more subtle ways. When talking with each other, people tend to avoid looking directly into the other person's eyes. People are afraid that you can read their soul if you look into their eyes. Yes, we can read each other's souls through our eyes. I happen to be a very strong eye contact person and it makes others very uncomfortable. Why do people wish to hide who they are? Have you seen photos of these boys who were in the Trenchcoat Mafia? Their lips may be smiling, but nothing else is. Look into their sad, detached, almost dead, eyes. Their eyes tell you they have not been happy, and something is very "off." This is an important key! Iridology. I have seen the eyes of other kids who turned to violence and I observed the same thing - detachment, sadness, a wildness. It can be seen in the energy coming out of their eyes or by seeing the pattern in the iris. You can even tell when something is out of synch in the brain or the body, just by looking at a person's eyes. Perhaps if people start using direct eye contact with people, so people can see the soul with whom we are communicating, or even by looking at photos of a person, we can be alerted to problems before they get out of control.

This is a tragic time for our world - in these ways it's a devolution in consciousness. Of course, there are many of you who see what's going on and feel sad, a loss, too. Now, what are we going to do about it? Because it's not working the way it is set up now. Change begins within each person knowing fully well wlo we are and then what we wish to create with who we are. Our current society does not ascribe to this way because it still attempts to make everyone the same. In order to change society - we must begin to help each person look within, discover the beauty that they are and that all life is interconnected. And, what we do to another, we are doing to ourselves, and vice-versa...and what goes around, comes around. Until society practices these basic truths, we cannot evolve.

The outpouring of prayer and compassion in unity has been phenomenal after the shooting at the Denver high school. There are many people sending out loving energy and working to make a change from violence to peace in our world. Let us continue to focus on more love and light being sent around the planet.

I open my website to those who wish to share solutions to how we can improve education, entertainment, family life, raising our children, how spirituality enters into it, and what we can do to move our planet into a peace-based economy, equally respectful of all life, bring more love and help each one of us be our fullest divine potential, rather than our worst nightmare. Please read below for some first-hand accounts of violence, it's causes and suggestions for solutions which were written in response to this article. Here is a fabulous website with more positive solutions to all of our gripes - The Earth Charter - check it out.

"I will pledge to be a part of the solution.
I will eliminate taunting from my own behavior.
I will encourage others to do the same.
I will do my part to make my community a safe
place by being more sensitive to others.
I will set the example of a caring individual.
I will eliminate profanity towards others from my language.
I will not let my words or actions hurt others.
And if others won't become part of the solution, I will."

I wish to share a letter from a compassionate reader, David 'Freeman,' an ex-con, who has positively turned his life around and is now helping others in prison, helping prevent people from committing crime, and helping ex-cons rehabilitate. Thank you, David.

Dear Nora:
I lived in a world of violence for the first thirty years of my life, and violence was accepted and part of that world. You would think I might have some answers. It was just accepted as being part of the "world" of crime and prisons. I am sickened by today's slaughter of children by other children as I have been in the past by other such events.

In prison I learned that no one can be rehabilitated by anyone; that rehabilitation comes from within. Children have seen thousands of murders, rapes, and worse and acts of violence on the news, and on the web. A child learns what they live and at a very young age they know a lot through media and movies. The first Rambo movie I saw, many years after it first came out was terrifying to me and look at the life I had lived.

I lived with a friend, a separated father, who allowed his young children ages 5, 7 and 8 to watch anything they wanted on television. In about 5 months time of living there I watched how these young minds emulated the characters on TV, used the same language as the "Simpsons," acted like some of their "heroes" in the sit-coms, etc., and could see how their minds were shaped by what they saw.

The young people of today are very disillusioned and caught up in the illusions of today. This is a delusional world and if you look at the top selling rental list of video movies the best sellers are the violent and horror type movies. There must be 30 or more serial murder movies that hit the charts in the past 10 yrs. I know someone that watches all of them and each one is gorier than the previous one.

As a child I remember coming out of the movies and if it was a cowboy and Indian movie--thats what we played afterward etc. I am not saying the media and the movies and TV are totally responsible, but young minds are shaped by this "real world" of film.

One day when I was owner of a store a young child of 5 or so was touching my jewelry display hanging on the walls. His mother gave him a terrible whack on the behind yelling, "Don't touch"! I never like to interfere with parents and their children, but I told her very calmly, "You are teaching your child VIOLENCE."

"Violence begats violence." Having been involved in some minor riots, I've seen and even instigated some minor riots and a mass escape in the training schools and jails. One person, and sometimes I was that one, can influence others into violent action and we are being bombarded with violence on TV etc.

Truman Capote's book, "In Cold Blood," is mostly about two personalities combining together and forming a third personality. In this case the two men were really not murderers but together they slaughtered an innocent family so they would not leave any witnesses when they robbed them in their home. There was no money as there was supposed to have been. But even if the money had been there, they still formulated the plan of killing them on the way there. All they had to do was wear masks and they would not have been identified.

In my life I have committed crimes where the other person and myself talked ourselves into it when I was trying to "go straight." It is my belief that movies, etc. are a part of a weak, or disillusioned (one caught in illusion) are part of "talking that person into something."

I've seen many incidents in prison of people starting out with thinking they were going to "get" someone and "talking themselves into it" and eventually often did even to the point of killing them. I often talked myself into trouble. Play the "tapes" of your thinking often enough and they become a reality. With movies the tape is also visual and audio and so real to young minds and immature ones.

When I talk with young children or teens I never talk down to them but talk to them as an equal. They are as important as we are. Each person must set an example as they walk through life and EVERYONE is a teacher. Parents must be responsible with and for their children " A child is an unpainted canvas--and who holds the paintbrush?" Responsibility means setting an example, and being responsible as to what the children learn everywhere. What they watch, what they see of family interaction --- meaning are they taught and shown love, caring and that they are valuable--not a piece of property owned by their parents and society.

Each one of us is responsible for setting an example in life and part of that responsibility is censoring the garbage that is available for children to see. Teach them and all the value of Love, Compassion and Peace and each of us, one by one, and then combined together as we all are, we can make a "new" movie in a "new" world.

Peace David

Here is a letter from a health care professional with her feelings on the subject of violence. Thanks, MoonFire.

Dearest Dr. Amrani,
I worked with the most violent men in the state of California for over ten years. As a Psychiatric Technician, I was group leader to axe murderers, serial murderers, sexual predators and other nefarious scum. The one thing that is evident in working with them, is one, they need love, and two, they have not learned to receive love. From that point all violence flows.

The men that I worked with all had one thing common to them. They had all been vicitims of brutal and violent abuse themselves. The begats if you will. Most child molestors were molested as children, and the most sick and brutal were those who had been vicitimized by their mothers in various degrees of incest. Statistically men who have incestuous relationships with their mothers are prone to psychosis in later years. 85% in fact, become psychotic while less than 5% of the girls who have sex with their fathers become so.

What is happening with our children today? Well, I have several ideas.
1.) I believe that many of these children are the children of the Cocaine Christians of the '80's. Remember when cocaine was the rich man's high? Well, that made everybody want to do it. Everybody was toking their little brains out, and giving free untraceable money to the CIA, whose funding had been stopped by Congress in l978.

After everyone found out how not great the coke was, we had the Born Again Blues. No one wanted to go to NA so they started to go to church. From that point, the Republican Party jumped on the bandwagon and fanned the fires of the Moral Majority. Now the children of the early and mid-eighties, that have been ADHD, are crawling out of the woodwork with loaded guns.

2.) My other speculation is about thinking. We agree that all thoughts are bio-chemical-electrical-magnets. By themselves,$they are without discrimination. So is the Universe. Each thought attaches itself to the Akashic Record and to the Cosmos. They seek like. They can be directed with visualization, or they can be allowed to just go to the cosmos. Humans are also bio-chemical-electrical magnets.

We pull from the cosmos our energy. If the energy we attract is negative, then we are setting ourselves up with failure by how we think of others, ourselves, and the world around us. If the energy we attract is positive, it is because we are basically positive.

Most people do not focus much energy on others, but they do put their negativity out into the cosmos. Our children do not know how to protect themselves psychically against psychic attack. We do this by connecting to the Source to claim our Godhood. If we are not connected to the Source, we are just random magnets, repelling and attracting things in the blink of an eye. Most of us do not suffer the intense violence of crime, because we do not suffer the world with worry.

How many times have you heard someone say, "I knew that was going to happen, I just knew it.?" Or, "I have been scared to death of that happening and now it is here?" What we think about we send to the universe, and those who are less aware pick up the negative energy and act on it.

Think about the mental and visual energy that people put into the action movies that they go see. Most of those are adrenalin rushes. Tremendous energy is released by us as we view violence and the mayhem of the screen. We do not mean to visualize and create these little magnets, but we do. We send these thoughts out and some poor kid in Sheboyigan picks it up when he is most susceptible, when he has had a bad day, when the other kids made fun of them, when their father in a drunken rage beats them, when their mother cranked up loses it and doesn't come home for days on end. When they are most in despair is when they are most vulnerable to the evil we create either passively by seeing it on the screen or when we actively create by our own anger and hatred.

Once unleashed, violence is a monster. It feeds on the pain and heartache of others. It grows without our knowing and it destroys as we helplessly stand by and wonder what the hell happened.

I love you and love to read what you write. You stimulate me to more and more writing. Thank you.

Love, light, learning and laughter,

And this comment from Rolland Alba given in response to someone who constantly posts messages about what is wrong with our country, and I completely agree with the importance of balance:

If we concentrate on what is very wrong all the time then we will miss what is very right. I think our major task at this point on Earth and in our individual lives is to find 'balance.' We live in a plethora of endless streams of information flowing to us from the Cosmos at large and much of it needs to be filtered out and brought into perspective. The fulcrum of our lives is there and we but need to find it - separately, individually and as a Cosmoid community which spans eternity beyond time. There is good happening as well. The media needs to sell what sells that they may live to see another day. It is indeed a shame that our educational institutions have brought the present world of violence to pass but we can and will change that. As we reach out towards the stars and our greater destiny we also will achieve a balanced perspective on all fronts. We may live to see an end to war, but war also is a part of the general semantic and until we cease to need it it will be here. So for now we can envision a time, no matter how far distant that time may be, when all creatures, beings, everywhere will have achieved cognisance of the Divine within and recognition of the innate Self Hood and right to exist of all the variegated colors of Being that exists. You have that do we all.

© Copyright 1999, Estelle Nora Harwit Amrani