As a child, “anger” and “fear” has always followed me like a shadow. It isolated me from others, taught me how to doubt, and took away every bit of confidence I had. Unfortunately, even children under the age of six can be plagued with negative thoughts and emotions, especially if they have been victims of everyday physical and mental violence.
Thinking back, how I wish I had forgotten that blue patch on my arm, that painful bruise on my forehead, that swollen left cheek… Instead, my father’s strong hands and menacing face have become the clearest memories of my childhood. But the worst part of it all was that I was the only one in the house to be treated in such a manner. My younger brother never endured such a treatment, since he was the “precious son” of the family. After all, in many cultures, boys are considered as more important than girls, so my father unconsciously thought that way too. He wouldn’t lay a finger on my mother either, since she never had the courage to stand up against his violent behavior. In short, I was the best person for him to vent on.
As I grew up, I started to believe that things might be better off for me if I was born as a boy. I constantly felt the need to prove myself, to do better than my brother, and to hope for a bit of respect and approval from my father. In my head, the best solution was to become as boyish as possible by cutting my hair short, by throwing away all my girly clothes, and by excelling at school (in order to prove that I can be just as smart as everyone else).
But after many failed attempts, nothing really changed, and I became more and more angry. Why can’t I fight back? Why can’t I protect myself? Why is strength given to those who can harm others? Although I was a weak puppet in front of my father, I became a brutal aggressive child once I was at school. I often lashed my anger onto my friends in order to reassure myself that I am not the weakest after all. If someone annoyed me, I would kick, punch or shout. If someone insulted me, I would insult them back with words that were ten times more hurtful.
However, during high school, something finally made me change. That day, I was reading a play called “Incendies” by Wajdi Mouawad, and fell upon a quote that made me truly reflect upon my actions. The dialogue was something along the lines of: “You also will receive anger as your heritage, but you must break this thread of anger to make a better world.” After some thought, I realized that I have become the violent individual that I used to hate. But if anger, revenge and violence wasn’t the right solution, then what is the true solution in this case?
That night, my father and I had a long talk for the very first time. “I need to know WHY you do this me,” I told him. At first, we just stared at the table awkwardly. After a moment of silence, he apologized. But I still felt skeptical. Was he truly sorry for everything he has done? Why was he sorry? And then I suddenly noticed how weak he actually looked. Why haven’t I noticed his sunken eye sockets and his exhausted gaze? “I never wanted to hurt you, and I feel guilty about it everyday,” he replied. He then told me about being stressed at work because of his Asiatic origins, and even admitted that as a child, he was a victim of domestic violence too. That day, his revelations broke my thread of anger. After all, forgiveness was the real solution, and my family finally found the path towards happiness.
Sadly, our society still doesn’t grasp that we can’t solve violence with violence. Many victims believe that revenge and strength is the only solution, but it actually only strengthens the thread of anger. One must keep in mind that violent aggressors shouldn’t be considered as non-guilty. However, instead of sentencing them to prison, healing the wounds of the violent criminal can actually be more effective than punishing him. (A violent person will still come out of prison as a violent person, and maybe even worse than before.) In short, it may be better to heal rather than punish, and to help rather than blame. After all, the main goal is to break the thread of anger that has kept violence and hatred alive until this day. If people were aware of their threads, and are taught to fight violence with forgiveness and understanding, maybe we could’ve lived in a better, more peaceful world.