Sun, Apr 03, 2016 - Page 8 News List

Government should stop violence at its source

By Pan Han-shen 潘翰聲

Random killings are hard to comprehend and it is not easy to identify a single cause for such an act. We all wish that such things never happened and hope it does not happen again. The wave of indignation has spread a feeling of powerlessness. Some people, overcome by worry, are forgetting their principles out of concern for themselves, while others invoke guilt by association as they look for a scapegoat to vent their anger.

Some legislators are calling for legal amendments to impose harsher punishments, hoping to reap political gains. In contrast, the mother of the four-year-old girl who was killed on Monday has demonstrated courage and reason, saying that she hopes people can get to the heart of the matter, approaching it from the perspective of family and education, to ensure that people like her daughter’s attacker do not emerge again.

There is a story about a brigand who, as he awaits execution, is sketched by an artist as a demon. Laughing, the brigand says that when he was a little boy he was drawn as an angel, but that angelic child grew up to be a devil, and the artist was the same. Japanese cartoonist Osamu Tekuzuka adapted this story in his manga book Phoenix to reflect on the meaning of life and death.

Taiwanese society is experiencing a series of shared injuries. As people denounce the perpetrator or blame his family, few are willing to point the finger at themselves. Going on a witch hunt makes it easy for people to divest themselves of responsibility, overlooking their role as parts of the society who jointly shape the collective consciousness, including apathy, ignorance, anti-intellectualism and competition for material gain, as well as the cowardice of kneeling before the powerful, but bullying and humiliating the weak.

Taiwan’s most beautiful aspect is its people, but there are also corners where the sun never shines. Deep in each person’s heart and in their subconscious might lurk a hidden tumor of violence and destruction that only love and faith prevent from growing.

Education is extremely important. Those who do not harm insects, trees, cats, dogs and other living things for fun tend to respect everyone around them. By respecting nature and protecting the environment, people can learn about the many faces and meanings of life. Children are losing touch with nature as electronic signals take the place of parental education.

Meanwhile, a system that pursues sensory pleasure and encourages competition is also creating a destructive force.

The government should allocate funds toward basic cultural and social departments, focusing its attention on prevention violence at its source, and the top-heavy education budget needs to be reformed. Appointing a conscientious teacher can ensure that no child is left behind. Spending a bit more on social welfare can cut the number of high-risk families. Relieving police of unnecessary extra duties would allow them to focus on crime prevention. Reforming correctional institutions so that they really rehabilitate those who have gone astray would lower the rate of relapse.

People cannot expect everyone to be as psychologically robust as the victim’s mother. The government should offer more support and protection to victims and their families, and promote judicial reform to implement restorative justice.

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