We live in a violent world.  Even if you remove humans from the picture, predators would continue to torment prey; hurricanes and tornados would still unleash nature’s wrath with wind and rain on the planet’s geologic façade; asteroid’s might continue to occasionally rearrange Earth’s biological diversity.  But humans. Human beings make things so much worse.

Homo sapiens — nomenclature for our genus and species that is derived from the latin “wise man.”  Compared to the rest of living beings on this planet, we certainly have the unique ability to influence — even control — most things around us.  But how wise are we, really?  What have we learned from our violent history? Are we wise enough to pull back from the brink, time after time after time, or are we too smart for our own good — and, essentially, incompatible with this planet’s future?

Humans are a violent bunch alright.  Always have been and, perhaps, very possibly, always will be.  Violence still catches our collective attention; it still moves us, though in varying ways. Columbine and Sandy Hook.  Gettysburg and Fallujah. Birmingham and Ferguson.  Nazi’s and ISIS.  9/11.  War.  Firearm slaughters.  Terrorism.  Beheadings.  The list of when, why, and how people hurt other people, with grotesquely violent methods to maim and kill, goes on and on and on.

Then, there is the everyday, mundane violence we hear about every day:  shootings in a neighborhood only miles away; physical bullying on your elementary school’s playground; an NFL player who beats his wife senseless with his fists; another NFL player who beats his 4-year-old son so brutally that the striped welts and abrasions from the switch on his legs and buttocks and back and scrotum are overshadowed by the trauma on the little boy’s hands and arms from trying to defend himself.  We’ve become used to hearing news about violence like this, from the distance from our couches to the TV in our homes, to the closeness of domestic violence we hear about (and see) in the lives of those we know and love.

I don’t believe that violence is imprinted in our common DNA; we are not destined as a species to hurt and maim and kill each other.  Instead, violence is learned.

So who is doing the teaching?  Parents who think that spanking, or beating up a child, is “discipline”; parents who have at least a little tolerance to “zero tolerance” no-bullying policies in schools; parents who allow their children to observe violence in all its forms: TV, video games, physical and verbal quarrels in their own homes.  Toy guns, virtual guns, real guns — all in the hands of children.

Let’s be clear about this: hitting a child is never, ever justified, by any adult, any parent, anywhere.  It doesn’t matter if that’s the way you were raised, or that that is how your parents “disciplined” you.  You should (and you do) know more than your parents ever did (and your children will know more than you ever do).  And today, in 2014, you should know that spanking with a hand/beating with a switch/verbally humiliating a child is wrong and hurtful and, most of all, doesn’t work!  If you think those things are effective discipline, common sense and science say you are horribly wrong.  Stop it!  Get some help.  The only thing that violence to children in the name of “discipline” does is relieve the parent of their frustrations and anger.  That’s all.

Real men don’t kick their dogs, punch their wives, whip their children.  If you want your kids to fear you, you’ve got it all sadly, sadly wrong.  You’ll get the fear factor (sure you will), but love, respect, trust?  Good luck with that.  You want to be that type of parent?  Get yourself fixed and don’t have children.  You’ll be doing yourself, your kids, and the rest of us who have to witness the sorry spectacle of child abuse a huge favor.

We’ve come a long way from the days of leather football helmets.  Men should never hit women (and women should never hit men).  And no one should hit a child.  For any reason.  EVER!