Love and Violence

Related to the same NPR interview I just commented on, about how to understand and how to control people who might be dangerous to the rest of society, I offer this to ponder:

“Love and violence, properly speaking, are polar opposites. Love lets the other be, but with affection and concern. Violence attempts to constrain the other’s freedom, to force him to act in the way we desire, but with ultimate lack of concern, with indifference to the other’s own existence or destiny. We are effectively destroying ourselves by violence masquerading as love.” — psychiatrist and existentialist R.D. Laing, The Mystification of Experience, in The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise (1967, 1990 p. 50)

When we notice the ‘red flags’ of potentially dangerous deviancy and seek to institutionalise, drug, or otherwise control the behaviour of the deviant person — when we “attempt to constrain the other’s freedom, to force him to act in the way we desire” — and do so without concern for that person, and in fact while sacrificing that person’s “existence or destiny” for the sake of many others’ existence and destiny, is this indeed a violent act, one that destroys us as society? Is there any way to keep the members of a society safe from one who would seek to harm them without controlling that one?

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