Take a look at the weekend’s events and you’ll see barbarity. Yet another Trump rally was plagued with violence, as people were punched and hit with eggs. Thankfully, condemnation of the violence was not subjected to partisanship, as politicians on both the Left and Right denounced the violent actions.
All of these incidences of violence are inexcusable. Each act was offensive in nature, not defensive, and is therefore wrong. Such analysis informs our laws concerning assault and should likewise be applied to our understanding of these situations.
These incidences share a common origin: those involved allow emotion to control their actions.
This problem stems from the fact that people are substituting their ability for legitimate discussion and debate with violent physical force, the source of which is emotion.
It’s so much easier, and so much more natural, for a person to scream and curse and swing his fists at those who disagree with his positions than to engage them in discussion, using facts and evidence to support a position. This much is as abundantly clear on college campuses as it is at Trump rallies. How much better would our political climate be if, instead of burning hats and assaulting people, protestors set up forums or discussions outside of events to engage Trump supporters? Of course, this is the high road, one too many are unwilling to take.
The great philosopher, Ayn Rand, has brilliant insight to offer on this subject. She writes in her book, For The New Intellectual, that “Emotions are not tools of cognition. No man has a right to initiate the use of physical force against others.” She comments further that “reason is a volitional faculty.” In other words, it is not the default. Our default mode is violence and screaming – and that’s what children do. We have to train ourselves to use reason; we have to learn it and we have to freely employ it. But all too often, reason is the high road, one too many are unwilling to take.