I just stumbled onto a great article by Greg Ellifritz on the Active Response Training website about a very common but often misunderstand form of violence, "the educational beatdown." As he notes in the article:
"If you don’t interact with cultures who embrace violence as a problem solving technique you assume that everyone is like you. You assume that if you offend someone (accidentally or otherwise), there will not be any physical consequences. It’s only surprising because you don’t understand that some groups have different 'rules' than your group has."
I cannot stress how important this concept is. I frequently come across nice, educated, middle-class people who only associate with other nice, educated, middle-class people in nice, middle-class neighborhoods. They sometimes think they can act rudely and get away with it because, in general, they can. But if they venture out of their nice, middle-class comfort zone, they will find that the penalties for improper behavior can be more serious.
To quote Rory Miller:
"There are places in the United States where if you do something rude and improper you will get disapproving looks and people will whisper about you. They might snub you in the coffee room or not invite you to go bowling. And there are places in the U. S. where doing something that society considers rude will get you beaten without a second thought."
Do you think that’s wrong? Barbaric? Uncivilized? Maybe you’re right. But you know what? Being “right” probably won’t make you feel better as you are being beaten up for failing to realize that different people follow different rules than you do.
As the article concludes: "Be smart. Don’t act like an asshole. Don’t be condescending or insulting to people who live in an environment where violence is the consequence when you screw up. Understanding these 'rules' will keep you out of a lot of trouble."