I do an exercise in my nonviolence classes and to my children that symbolizes what violence and fighting is.
Most of the time I split them into groups of two. Then I ask them to put their hands out in front of them, palm side down. I ask them to smile at eachother, and keep smiling through the exercise.
Instructions: Take your right hand and tap the left hand of the person in front of you. Now the opposite person taps the left hand of the other person with their right. Each time one person taps a hand, the other has to repeat.
As they begin to do this, they are bored and begin to see this as pointless. Within a minute, I ask them to increase the speed. At this moment, the smiles disappear. After they disappear, the taps get harder and harder. With boys, who are socialized to think that pain=power and being male=power, the taps turn into full hits. After 2 minutes they are tired of the game. After 3 minutes, they are almost ready to just stop on their own – if they haven’t already.
Sometimes I will play a video clip from the movie Night at the Museum where the monkey and the human have a slap fight that amounts to NOTHING but frustration.
Then I ask them why they didn’t like it and the answers are always the same. “It was stupid.”, I’t was pointless.”, “It was ridiculous.”, “You aren’t solving anything, you’re just doing the same thing over and over and over.”
Then I ask if they would do it again and why? They explain that “there’s no point”, “it’s a stupid excersise.”
After we’ve had the very negative discussion I explain that this is a fight, a battle, a war. One side hits, the other side hits, the one side hits, the other side hits. There’s no rhyme or reason…it’s pointless…just like you said.
Because we all know that violence is pointless…but we’ve been taught and told that violence is necessary. Our country was founded on the idea that violence=peace. This the same stance our police force and our child rearing take to justify their violence.
In the end, the students realize the nonsense of violence and the nonsense of not seeing someone for who they are.
What do you think about this exercise? Could you use it with your group?
Chad Herman - Motivatingforpositivechange.com