April 1, 2020 – Ask Monty Newsletter
Question: How do you stop violence?
I always read other people’s questions as they are very often very interesting, and your thoughtful answers informative and useful. But every question, and every answer, seem to lead me towards one foundation question, or one underlying mystery. My own question is:
Why, how, as a child, were you able to recognize that your father was wrong, both in his treatment of horses and of you – and then choose not to be the same yourself?
The more usual scenario is that beaten children believe their parents are right and good, and feel they themselves really are to blame, eventually becoming violent parents themselves (either believing it is the correct thing to do, or finding they are not able to stop themselves). I have often wondered about this – your insight, and your physical, mental and above all emotional resistance to all the damage being inflicted. So many of us take a lifetime to come to the same outlook, if we ever manage to.
Bless you for your lifelong efforts to pass on your insight, skill and experience to benefit horses – and humans.
It is very interesting to me to receive your question. Your thoughts are insightful and certainly profoundly true. All of my university courses made it clear that physical abuse by parents creates a chain reaction. This insures a high percentage of physically abused children will follow in the footsteps of the offending parent. Believe me, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my father. There was a very strong pull within me to be violent. If it wasn’t for Sister Agnes Patricia, who began to influence me at the age of nine, I very likely would have followed my father’s behavior and possibly even worse.
When you pose the question “How did I recognize that his actions were unacceptable to horses” that was easy. I love horses far more than I loved myself or other human beings. It was much easier for me to recognize that his actions were wrong when he used violence on the horses. It was far more difficult for me to conclude that his actions were wrong when he was violent with me. There was a deep understanding within me that I would get back at him and the horses could not. I was far more angry about the horses than I was about myself.
Sister Agnes Patricia shall always receive the credit from me for causing me to shed my need to utilize physical violence back toward my father or other human beings. This lady, now in heaven, was clearly responsible for seeing to it that I did not use the same violence on people that my father used on the horses or me. All of my studies of behavioral sciences validate the notion that familial violence creates a chain which is very difficult to break. Sister Agnes Patricia began when I was 9 to cause me to see that using violence would only be acting with the same negativity which I detested from my father.
Not wanting to live a violent life and die a violent human, Sister Agnes Patricia and my eight years in University clearly caused me to reject those actions and break that chain. My younger brother followed the violent pattern. He has been dead for about 10 years now, filled with cancer which took his life. He was one of the most violent men one could imagine with many arrests for violent actions. I am the luckiest man in the wold and the female of our species is primarily responsible for the incredible good luck that I have had throughout my 84 years.
Sister Agnes Patricia was a Notre Dame nun teaching in a school where I was required to be tested as my education was on the road due to horse show competitions and as a child stunt person in the movies of the 1940s. Sister Agnes Patricia came into my life at the age of 9 and lived until I was 57 years old and had already met Queen Elizabeth II. These two ladies guided me into the path of good luck and certainly acted to keep me from following the path of violence. Patricia Roberts and I married when I was 21 and there is no question that these three ladies formed a pattern for which I will always be grateful.
Read the full newsletter: How do you stop violence?