04/16/2012 02:59 pm ET Updated Jun 16, 2012

Reset the Clock

"F*&k you, you're just a B^#&h. You hear me B^#&h?! You're just a B^#&h, always remember that... Shut the f*&k up. NOW! I will beat your a$$ B^#&h!"

Perched in my window on a sunny Saturday morning, I witnessed the above words spoken from the mouth of a teenage male toward a teenage female. My blood stirred from the bellowing sound of his venomous words. I secretly willed the teen girl to resist, as safe as she could, without losing an ounce of her dignity. I willed her with all my might. I forced open a space in my mind to consider a humanitarian response as I resisted the trance of my own trigger of the days when I had to fight off male inflicted words and violating deeds that sought to break my spirit and publicly rob my dignity.

The teen girl must have felt my energy course through her because she told the boy something that I could not hear, turned her back to him, and walked away from him and an audience of flabbergast teens with her head held high. The teen male reacted by following close behind the female in combat stance. With an incredulous face and tone ever so slightly less in base, the teen boy yelled "WHAT?! What the f*&k you say? HEY! I will whoop yo a$$ B^#&H!" The teen girl did not miss a beat in her dignified cadence on the pavement as she unflinchingly walked on, head held high, by then speaking on her cell phone.

The teenage girl was visibly pregnant.

There are two things significant in the confrontation I witnessed. Once the male felt threatened, he attempted to control the outcome of the situation in his favor by trying to convince the female that she was "just a b^#&h." The boy's use of specific derogatory words in this context was to evoke the girl to feel less valuable because of her gender. The rhetoric of the male does not necessarily mean that he believes that the female is less valuable. However, the rhetoric of the male does indicate that he at least expected the female to internalize his violent remarks in order to defeat her perceived advantage over him in the situation. What is also significant about the rhetoric of the teenage boy is that he completed his move to gain control of the situation by adding in a threat of physical violence. So there you have it: The teen girl is supposed to interpret that her gender is not valuable and that if she resists this violent idea, she will cause her own physical violence.

It is tempting to view the entire scenario between the two teenagers as a problem with youth violence, a snapshot into the dangers of pregnancy, or an all too common sentiment of the value of males compared to females. The scenario between the two teens is much bigger than all of the mentioned options combined. The scenario is a window into the way our world predominantly operates.

Our world uses violence as currency that is predicated on keeping the least of us controlled. Over time, we have internalized powerful, seductive narratives of violence that say some are more valuable than others and that the lesser of us merit a life of structured and interpersonal violence without resistance. The alluring narratives of violence celebrate individual grandeur and has produced a world that impedes interconnection and a culture of peace. Like the teen boy's actions, our world traps us in a cycle of control seeking as well as simultaneous resistance to its toxic oppression, much like the teen girl's response.

If we individually accepted the challenge to deconstruct our thoughts, motives and actions in relation to our environments would we be a better humanity? Perhaps the nucleus to a better humanity is to practice deep listening, humility and reconstruct the harmful, seductive narratives of violence into healing, self-actualizing narratives of deliberate peace. Maybe we start with the basics of how to incorporate love of the self, reverence for the land and honor of our fellow man within our formal education structures. Maybe we complement the formal education structure with informal family structures that reject notions of love and honor that are in actuality based in shame and guilt to create mindless submission under the label of loyalty.

If natural resources, world peace, healthy communities and vibrant individuals were a clock, the time for change would be now. Right now the clock is ticking counter-clockwise. What are you going to do to reset the clock? The thing about the clock is that we are all bound by it, regardless of whom we would prefer to share time with. It is time for us to face our violent narratives and reset how we treat each other. We will all be the better for it.