Some of the most revered stories in our culture glorify violence. Many of our heroes, both fictional and real, are heroes because of their bravery in the face of violence and for their capacity to execute violence. The list of celebrated violent heroes is long and grows all the time: Luke Skywalker, Batman, Neo from The Matrix, the Black Panther, James Bond, Indiana Jones, John McClane from Die Hard, Tyler Durden from Fight Club, Wolverine, King Arthur, Aragorn, Odysseus, and Rambo.
In telling the stories of my personal involvement with violence, my intention is not to glorify violence, as is so commonly done in many of the movies we watch, the books we read, the stories we tell, and even the news we hear. My intention is to present a realistic portrayal of how both committing violence and being victimized by violence traumatizes and disrupts the lives and potentials of boys and men.
If anything, I wish to glorify forgiveness, compassion, and somatic awareness in this book.
I grew up in a middle-class family in a middle-class neighborhood in a small town in the mountains of British Columbia. I have a body with white skin and the privileges inherent with that. I didn’t grow up in a tough neighborhood of a big city or in a war zone. I’ve never been in military combat. I’ve never been a member of a gang or involved with organized crime.
Many people have witnessed, been a victim of, or committed far more severe violence and more frequent violence than I have. My involvement with violence is certainly less extreme than many have encountered, and yet I would still consider violence to have shaped my life in many respects.
Despite having grown up with a great deal of privilege in a seemingly safe neighborhood, I nonetheless experienced all of the violence described in this book. By the time I reached adulthood, I had a great deal of violence and trauma to heal. I have been doing my own healing work for two decades now to heal the impacts of violence within myself as completely as I can.
I readily acknowledge that many boys endure more extreme violence than I did, and I would expect that they also experience even more trauma. I feel compassion for these boys, I wish for healing and peace to reach every one of them, and I hope that this book can be of service to them.
Many men who have been involved in wars and gangs also have undoubtedly experienced much more violence than I have. For these men, I also feel compassion and hope that they can find healing and peace. I hope that this book can serve them also.
The stories that follow are ordered chronologically. They start with relatively minor violence during my childhood and become more severe in my later teen and early adult years.
May the following stories that I share in the spirit of healing, vulnerability, and transparency about my own history of and relationship to violence be a stimulus for your own process of healing.