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The Life of Pi is a very intense experience of a movie; moving through a young boy’s life as his older self remembers it (or perhaps imagines it) the viewer can slip into the story as easily as a well-worn t-shirt. We see him stand up to bullies in a creative fashion, lose his idyllic life as his father makes a difficult decision, and find a way to survive the horrific result of that decision.

In light of the Connecticut elementary school shooting and the mass stabbings in a Chinese school, we must continually self-examine our own propensity for violence; when we feel attacked do we strike back with violent speech? When our children misbehave do we reflexively spank them or slap them?

There can be multiple reasons why someone loses self-control and becomes so over-the-top angry as to kill others. If the perpetrator had a horrific childhood, with violent role models, s/he may not know any other way to express anger. If a child is exposed to toxins in the environment or diet or if the diet is highly depleted there may have been damage to the developing brain which can cause an inability to control impulses in the face of unrecognized pain.

At the end of The Life of Pi, Pi describes the reaction he received from the shipping company executives when he told his fantastic tale of his survival; they did not believe him and asked for “the truth”. The truth he told was sad, shocking, not inspiring at all. The story he made up in order to bear the truth was an elaborate metaphor explaining how he could do what he did.

But how he lived his life afterwards defines the way out of violence. He cannot undo what was done, but he can change how he approaches what he does in the future. We should all do the same.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” ~ Dr Martin Luther King Jr

April 2019
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