I was a violent child. I pushed kids off bikes. I kicked a girl in the crotch. I used to get in bouts with my brother, though most of the time I was taunting him and then running away from him around the table or locking myself in the bathroom. I also tried to kiss a lot of kids – and that’s the worst violence of all. But now, post-puberty, I am a pacifist/coward. Violence scares me. Not movie violence – when it’s not gratuitous it’s fine, sometimes even cool; cartoon violence cool and funny. And I think that people who can’t tell the difference between fictional violence and real violence have something wrong with their respective brains. In D&D whenever a player character kills a monster, I am occasionally quite graphic with descriptions of, say, gore spraying across your face as the weight of your sword slices through the neck of your opponent.
I’m sure everyone has their own history of violence. Jon was telling me about how he used to go to bars in Surrey and get drunk and pick fights. The telling of the story was hilarious, the horror insulated by time. Looking back on my youth, I can both laugh and cringe at my own antics. I definitely took more lumps than I gave out, over the years, and my only scars are from animals and accidents with glass and nails. I can’t remember the last time I actually hit somebody on purpose, with meaning. It must have been elementary school – almost 20 years ago. I remember shoving my second girlfriend hard enough that she fell down (in a grocery store, no less – I was 19 or 20 at the time), but holy crap did I ever weep about that and beg for forgiveness shortly after (she forgave me easily and I’m thankful for that). I can’t imagine any circumstance in which I would want to inflict violence on another human being. I sometimes doubt if I’d be capable of it, but I think in certain stressful situations, I could surprise myself. I hope that if Marlo was being raped I wouldn’t just stand there yelping and throwing packing peanuts at the guy.
Personally, it boggles my mind that there is so much violence in the world; that there are people out there, right now, punching one another in the face, probably not that far from me. And worse that others are shooting and stabbing eachother. I would like to propose that that is wrong.