Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Catharsis through Martial Art in Afghanistan

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Catharsis through Martial Art in Afghanistan

The strong tendency towards martial art in Afghanistan will lead to widespread violence. Martial art has been changed into a constructive pastime for a number of Afghan youths unaware of its adverse effect. The nation stricken by violence and bloodshed is still inclined to cheer the punches and kicks exchanged in martial art leagues or sport shows. The psychologically negative impact of violent shows on the minds of Afghan youths is undeniable.
Afghans are also engrossed in football since the social media is replete with an outpouring of approval and disapproval about football teams. A large number of youths burn the midnight oil to watch football matches. Besides this, their keen interest in martial art is crystal clear. Afghanistan has been beset by violence within three decades and so. Therefore, violent practices – be it through sport, movies, game, etc. – will have its ill impact on younger generation.
Perhaps, this is a cathartic practice for Afghans. Catharsis – which is defined as “the process of releasing strong emotions through a particular activity or experience, such as writing or theatre” – manifests itself in the “Romeo and Juliet” drama by William Shakespeare. For example, feeling pity and fear, the audience burst into tears when Romeo drinks poison believing erroneously that Juliet had drunk, too. Since losing loved one will happen to anyone in real life, the audience are not able to resist their emotional senses. In other words, tragic scenes will fill the viewers with a strong sense of “pity” and “fear” and force them to tears. But the viewers will feel refreshed afterwards, which is called catharsis. Now the martial art viewers will feel “pity” and “fear” for the competitors and release their emotions booing and cheering. On the other hand, the competitors will unfold their feelings in harsh manner. Now the question is that do we need to create such cathartic scenes?
Afghans are believed to view catharsis in their real life. Warring factions, mainly the Taliban and self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), create tragic scenes through spilling the blood of combatants and non-combatants. Their cruel and inhuman practices regarding women and children trigger pity and fear in the public. No one will be able to resist their tears with the bloody scenes. Thus, our nation does not need to create tragic or cathartic scenes.
It is self-explanatory that violence lies in the nature of martial art. In this sport, athletes hit each other hard out of anger and the more violent you are the higher score you will get. Martial art will remind one of gladiators – the most brutal sport that has ever existed in ancient Rome. Gladiatorial game aimed to entertain the public by engaging in combat with another person. “Early gladiators were prisoners of war or slaves or condemned criminals but soon free citizens became gladiators hoping to win fame and fortune.” In this bloody game, men’s rights and dignity were trampled upon. Their lives had no value since the loser had to be killed before the spectators. Might was right and the stronger was the winner. In brief, both their lives and honor were at stake in this cruel game. However, the viewers simply cheered and booed while one’s blood was being spilt. This tragic catharsis went beyond the red border of humanity and ethical code and would fill the viewers with strong pity and fear – if they had a tinge of human feelings.
Physical power was deemed a superiority centuries back. For example, in the state of nature men hunted for prey to make the ends meet. The more powerful one was physically, the more prey they would hunt. After all, they lived in tribal structure and were involved in violent physical fights. Barbarity and bloodshed were their daily practices both in individual and collective life. Their life was void of moral values and social norm. Therefore, men were violent and aggressive in the state of nature and physical power was a real supremacy. 
Currently, we live in modern world where democracy and civilization have come to the fore. Men’s rights to life, liberty and property and democratic discourse are debated hotly in human societies. Unlike gladiators or the state of nature, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” No one is born slave and one is not supposed to be the casualty of discrimination on the grounds of their racial, religious or sexual backgrounds. In the current civil society, violence has no room, at least in the minds of modern men, national laws or international instruments although it is practiced widely. In another item, violence and physical aggressiveness have no legal or moral bases. Superiority lies in humanity and philanthropy rather than physical power. Hence, cathartic or tragic practices in daily life reveal one’s adventurous nature or tendency towards violence.
Despite altruistic mindsets and unique principles in national and international laws, our life is cursed with violence. Acts of violence and aggression are spread in one way or another. That is to say, violence increased from horror movies and martial art of athletes to dogmatic beliefs of fundamental groups. People, mainly women and children, fall prey to mental, verbal and physical violence practiced in social life.
Violent acts rehearsed widely in collective life is a matter of great concern. The children who are affected by the violence of a horror movie or martial art will tend to be violent via copying the same attitudes and engaging in adventures. Since some members of militant fighters are believed to be adventurous figures, the horrible consequence of violent shows and sports is beyond doubt.
Our society is supposed to do its best so as to prevent from violence in public life. Movies, sports and TV shows are to be depleted from violent acts. It will be constructive for the nation to divert its attention from martial art and watch football, volleyball, cricket, etc. instead. Harsh sports belong to centuries back when mankind lived in tribal structure. For instance, logic and reason had no room in the state of nature or in tribal fabric. Villains were the heroes, too. 
It is believed that cheering in martial art leagues will encourage the competitors to act more harshly. Human societies, especially the war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, will have to free all spheres of all from harshness. Sports are useful in soft manner without bleeding.
To mitigate violence, people are supposed to socialize their children in sound and violence-free environment. Since children and youths are highly vulnerable to social ills, a society has to put an end to violent and aggressive acts. Similarly, the younger generation needs to channel their time and energy to more constructive sports rather than gladiator-like games. We live in civil society – which is to be void of violence – and will have to uphold civil and non-violent rehearsals. It is hoped that Afghan nation will breathe a sigh of relief in a civil society, free from violent and tragic catharsis. 

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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