How to Heal Violence in the World - Domestic or Public, by Just Being You
This morning I woke up feeling rather cynical , annoyed and negative.
I usually wake up in high spirits, positive and I top it up with a morning session of prayer, meditations and affirmations.
And I started watching my thoughts, why did i wake up moody?
And it’s because last night just before going to bed, scrolling through Facebook I found a really shocking video, where these school kids had not only tied their colleague, but they put tape around his mouth and proceeded to perform all sorts of violent and horrible acts on him.
As I cannot stand violence or watch any of it, I scroll down, looking for a happier post, and it’s another violent bloody picture. I closed Facebook, and decided never to look at that person´s wall again.
But this morning I woke up thinking:
That kid who goes to public school and gets bullied and almost beaten to death, is the same kid that years later might have “made it” and is a multimillionaire, billionaire, or a famous rapper, athlete, singer, boxer, entrepreneur, olympic gold madalist, president even whatever. Or maybe he is the future Chris Brown, Oscar Pistorius, Bobby Brown, Sean Penn, OJ Simpson...or even the leader of a terrorist group...but the fact that you are a “MAN”, culturally means that you are supposed to “take it”, “be tough”, “don’t cry”, “be strong” and ultimately not deal with your feelings or express them, otherwise you are called a “pussy”.
What happens to repressed and unprocessed feelings, experiences and emotions, not only now but years down the line? Is it “enough” to simply seek justice, transfer your child to another school, get him to Harvard or Oxford, and later Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley?
Money, Status, Titles, don’t heal any pain. Nor does alcohol, nor does “staying busy”, nor does having a trophy girlfriend. We often think that chasing after these things will inevitably make us more “worthy”, happier, heal or conceal the pain, and make us forget the hard times. Or perhaps if the “cover” looks good enough, no one will question or suspect, what’s really inside. This is how people relate to one another - cover to cover.
That bruised kid, is however, the same man who years later murdered his wife or is facing charges for domestic violence. That bruised kid, is the same man who drank his way to sanity and ultimately destroyed his own life and lives of others.
My first question is, is it enough that we simply put our kids in private schools and top universities? And is it enough that we simply seek “justice” and hope for the police and courts to clean up the mess? Or maybe President Trump, since “it’s not our responsibility” ?!.
Or are we perhaps arriving a few steps too late? Where and when does this all start?
From the moment that we are born, our mothers (hopefully) do the best to protect us, and to keep us safe. My mother, like every other mother, did her very best to protect me, and give me the best possible education and opportunities. Just like you do, the very best to protect your own daughter and son. I went to a good private school, got my university education up to Postgrad level, had a relatively successful career by human standards, and was raised with strong values and principles.
And yet despite all these efforts to "be safe", my life almost ended in a tragic domestic violence incident, at the hands of a super hot “amazing guy”, genius mathematician, Oxford educated, top hedge fund manager in London, running £40bn, who happened to be my life partner. The book covers we choose, always seem "safe".
And so did Leslie Morgan Steiner, Harvard educated magazine editor turned business woman, who was almost murdered by her own husband, a top New York investment banker at the time. And so did the daughter of Armando Gebuza, the ex President of my country, Valentina Gebuza, who in December 2016, was murdered by her own husband, leaving a small child, I believe less than 3 years old behind.
Because daddy killed mommy, who in turn, happened to be someone’s cherished daughter. And so was Josina Machel, step daughter of Nelson Mandela and daugher of Graca Machel and former President Samora Machel who was left blind in one eye, after a violent attack by her intimate partner. And so did Katie Piper, a UK TV Presenter, who was left completely disfigured, after her boyfriend threw acid on her face, leaving her completely disfigured. The list goes on...
Why am I “name dropping” and “status dropping”?
I specifically and intentionally chose these examples because we live in a world that is obsessed by status, and titles. The reality is, “those” poor women in India, Africa, Syria or anywhere in the world, are me. I am them. “Those” statistics “out there” are me. They are also your daughter. Your sister. And maybe you.
And “those problematic kids”, “out there”, that you try to separate from “your” special child, are the same kids who are hungry and motivated enough to rise to the highest ranks of society, and who will soon be sipping champagne and driving ferraris with “your kid”, getting super hot girlfriends, like Reeva, or another "hot girl", of which one may be “your” special daughter, to whom one day you may be left with nothing but to do but to write a book in her memory.
Who is to "Blame"?
Why is it that when it boys or men are being physically abused and almost killed by their peers at school, the parents and society ask WHO did this — but when a woman experiences violence from a man, or is killed by her husband, they ask “Uh, what did SHE DO, to MAKE him do that?”.
People not only think this secretly but also voice it out aloud. Or they find excuses and fall into stereotypical arguments that define gender relations:
"Maybe its because she is too powerful and that´s a problem, she must have been emasculating him” or “she is too pretty, probably made him feel insecure” or “oh my God he must have been African, for sure he was African!”, or “He must have been a Muslim”, or “He must have been Black” or “He must have been Poor and from the Ghetto”.
So let me get this straight,
First they blame the victim - the WOMAN - It must have been "HER fault"
They make EXCUSES for the MAN - the violent perpetrator, the criminal
In 2012, 1 in 2 women worldwide were killed by their partners or family. Compared 1 in 20 men in the same circumstances (source UN Women)
In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, up to 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.
In South Africa, a woman is killed by an intimate partner every 6 hours (source)
1 in 4 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime (source)
An estimated 150 million girls under the age of 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002 alone.
My point is that whilst popular folk likes to stereotype violence against women as being either the victim’s fault, or the fact that maybe the guy is of a certain race, class, or status the reality is that it can and does happens to anyone and anywhere in the world. Whether it happens outdoors or behind closed doors. Whether it makes to the headlines of newspapers and television, or whether it’s a silent death no one ever hears about. The experience is the same.
The criminal can be just about anyone - regardless of class, race and gender. He can have white skin, orange skin, brown skin or black skin. He can be adorned in luxury and fancy toys, or adorned in poverty and a few scraps. He can be going to Oxford, Harvard or Yale, or he can have no education on whatsoever.
He can earn £100 bn, £100,000,000 or £100,000 or £100 or £1. He can be the son of “so and so” or he can be a “nobody”. “He” is the same.
And “her”? She can be the daughter of the president, or your daughter.
A television presenter or a young woman in rural India dreaming of even just being able to watch TV. She can be hot blonde model with blue eyes like Reeva Steenkamp (R.I.P) or she can be a young girl across the world forced into child marriage. She can be a young well educated executive like me, or she can be a poor woman with no education, job or even a safe home with water and electricity in rural Africa. There is no difference.
I am them, they are me.
Those men “out there” are people you high five, work with, party with and have drinks with. They are you, you are them.
We are not separated by distance, class, race, gender, status.
And yet, for all the challenges that we may face, there is always a bright shining star, reminding us to still love, and to still have hope and faith in ourselves and humanity.
For every act of Violence, there is an equal act of Kindness.
So what can you do to make a difference?
For many, making a difference seems like a big deal, like it's something "out there". Making a difference is much closer to you than you can imagine.
Compassion for Self
The first step is to develop a heart of compassion - the awareness that we are not separate, and are in fact all interconnected. But before we can have love and compassion for other people or forms of life, we must first develop Self-Love and Self-Compassion. For we cannot give what we do not have. Many people become iron cold, afraid to feel or protecting themselves from feeling. They don't allow the energy of Love to penetrate their hearts and beingness, and thus they are not capable of extending that love out into the world. What ends up overflowing is anger, pain, resentment, instead of Love. What we want to do is to fill ourselves and hearts with infinite amounts of Love, on a daily basis. Not love from others, but Love that we must give to ourselves. To have love and compassion for ourselves, no matter what.
Compassion for Others
As our heart opens, and we heal whatever it is we try not to feel by closing our hearts, our heart opens even more and we expand our sense of compassion to the world. Another's suffering is not distant from you but much closer to you. So even if you feel you are safe and separate, one day you may come accross those who were not safe and did not heal, and now decide to terrorise your country, your family, or a school, etc. But for as long as its happening on TV we think we are separate and have nothing to do with it. Again, we are not separate, we are One. The illusion of separateness is the biggest illusion and biggest cause of pain and chaos in the world. It's as if everyone is asleep operating on auto-pilot. To begin to open your heart, try to see the world through the eyes of God. Be present in each moment, and when you look through, try to transcend your limited self and just look through the eyes of God. Physically do it. It does shift things.
Share your Gifts with the World
Whether you know what your Gift is, your Purpose or Passion, it doesn't matter. You can draw on your current life experiences to date, you can draw on your network and even net worth, and try to think of new creative ways in which you can use what you have access to, to benefit others and the world.
What I learned, now that I arrived at my Life 2.0 is that we did not come here to take and destroy. We came here to give and heal our planet. It is our responsibility, and if each of us just shared a little bit more, the world would already be a better place. So whatever you have access to, think of ways to share that for a greater cause, even if just once a year, it's still better than nothing.
Act in Realtime
If you see someone being hurt, recognize that that boy or girl, could be you, your son or your daughter. Don't sit and watch, or engage in idle gossip and judgement as if you were a news reporter. Instead do something about it. By the time you finish rationalising it can be too late. Act in real time.
Practice Effective Altruism
Many people like to participate in fancy charity events just for the champagne and networking, and just to say that I am fancy and I gave back. You don't even know how effective your giving is, if it will even reach the hands of the people who need you. The organization Giving What We Can, has done research on the charities that are most effective in the world and that will have the biggest impact and many people around the world with not even huge salaries have pledged to give 10% of their income to the charities that have the biggest impact, in a cause they care about. Precisely because it is a well known fact that our giving does not always reach the hands of those who most need, choosing to Give Effectively is important.
You can read more about Effective Altruism on https://www.effectivealtruism.org/
Give what you Can, wherever you are
Lastly, you do not have to donate 10% of your salary or even go through a charity at all. You can help any way you can, wherever you are. In my family for instance, every year, we help disadvantaged kids directly - be it by paying for their education, health, buying them a mattress for their home so they don't sleep on the floor and so on. We can all do something.
Become Aware of the Role you play, everyday, in your daily life
Each of us, plays a part in this play. We are responsible, every day, through our daily actions. It feels good to judge others, gossip, watch TV and participate in the debate. But judging others or looking through the glass screen is not enough, we must rise up and become honourable ourselves. We hear about sexual assault, but as a man, think of ways in which you in your social conditioning of "manhood" may have played a part in sexual harassment, assault, betrayal, lack of loyalty, emotional or physical abuse and so on. Or how you innocently play a part in spreading the message of Violence through images you share on social media, thinking it's "funny" or "cool", yet perpetrating and spreading a worldwide acceptance of violence on the planet.
Recognize that you are part of the discourse, whether you like it or not. So if you are a man, become aware also of how you interact and treat women and people around you. Because those statistics are not numbers. They are people, like me and you. Together we make the stats. So let's change those numbers. One day at a time.
We are the statistics. And we are also the Role Models.
Lastly, because we are the statistics, and the role models, it means that it is up to every single one of us to become the highest and best version of ourselves. Everyone alive has wounds to heal, some buried deep underground that some days pop out out of nowhere. We underestimate the power of Healing and overestimate the power of covering up with things and activities. Somehow we learned to glorify the cocaine and rock and roll scene, and the man who has 5 girlfriends in order not to deal with his own pain. Coping mechanisms are everywhere to be seen - because we simply don't know how to heal and deal with our deepest wounds. No one is exempt from pain. Not even Donald Trump, and his covers are unfortunately no longer concealing his wounds, but showing them. And healing the world, ultimately, begins with healing ourselves.
Do what you can, wherever you are. Start with yourself.