Counselor's Corner: The response to violence

Fred Cavaiani

The violent murders committed by the misguided ISIS extremists are very frightening. Whenever we hear about terrorist attacks upon innocent people we experience a sense of fear and anger. How can this happen today? How can anyone who believes in God kill innocent people and proclaim hatred toward others who see life differently? My first reaction toward all this violence is anger and a desire to return violence with violence. I say to myself how can any religion stand by and not speak against these violent murders that ISIS proclaims to be based on its religious beliefs. This is so very frightening. How does one respond to this?

I think deeper reflection is important. I look at the history of wars. Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, and so many political and religious leaders have killed many people by portraying those who disagree as enemies. It almost seems to be part of human nature to destroy those who see life differently. This killing has been happening since Cain killed his brother Abel. It will continue to happen. It is always frightening. It is always horrible and soul wrenching. So how do I cope with this apparent ever present reality?

When I spend a good amount of time each day in quiet reflection through meditation and contemplation, something very peaceful happens inside of me. I get out of my head and into the depths of my heart. I am able to look deeper at what life is really about. I discover more about my own purpose in life. I experience in a deep, personal manner a profound awareness of a peaceful, loving God. Whatever values from childhood that had been taught to me negatively through parents, religion, politics and education start getting straightened out. In this daily silence I am able to confront negativity inside of me that may have misdirected my life. This happens because I permit the silence to happen. I reserve a very healthy dose of meditative silence each day. It is not getting a whole list of prayers done. It is becoming open and receptive in meditative, contemplative silence. The most peaceful people I have met in my life have always been the most compassionate people. As I look at their lives I discover that they spend a lot of time in receptive silence of meditation/contemplation. They listen carefully to other people. They listen to understand instead of listening to reply. Spending a lot of time each day verbally saying prayerful words is not prayerful, meditative silence.

Have you ever seen those who practice Yoga marching militantly to kill someone? Have you ever seen a group of Buddhist monks, Catholic monks, or any other quietly reflective group marching off with machine guns and swords? Have you ever seen a person who yells and screams at people spending much time in quiet reflection?

There is an answer to violence. There is a way to become objectively free. Take time to be quiet and listen reflectively to the silence where God will gently embrace you, whoever God might be for you. If you don't believe in God take the time to be silent and you will discover something profound, deep and peaceful. You will become more compassionate.

A week ago I gave a talk to about seventy people, parents and their teenage sons and daughters. I walked them through a meditation. They all loved it. In a room of seventy people there was absolute silence and peace. They all agreed how peaceful this experience was. But most said that they do not do this on a daily basis.

The response to violence, personal, political, and global needs to begin with an ability to become personally and socially reflective through meditation and contemplation. About 10 years ago in Washington D.C. a group of 4,000 people met to meditate for a weekend. The crime rate went down by 25 percent. This had never happened before.

The most positive and peaceful leaders in history have been quietly reflective people who have spent a lot of time in daily silent reflection. Start doing this. You will become a very positive response to the violence in your life and the violence in the world. You will make the world a better place while your inner self becomes peaceful, compassionate and objective.

I once presented a program to a company who had their factory employees spend a few minutes at the beginning of each day in a quiet meditation. The accident rate in the factory diminished by 70 percent.

In this busy age we need to return to daily silence through meditation. If Congress spent one half day in prayerful, contemplative silence, amazing positive things would happen. If a country did this, imagine the positive changes that could happen. But let's start with ourselves - today.

Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Tue, Feb 24, 2015