The myth of redemptive violence

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« Wink, Quinn, Hartmann, Clark and many other authors have described a modern myth, which we act on daily. Wink calls it “the myth of redemptive violence”.

“This myth seduces us into believing that conflicts can be resolved with violence. It seems logical because, after enough violence a kind of harmony often occurs, at least for a short while 1. What one forgets is that after a while violence tends to flare up again, now with an enlarged force. »

The myth of redemptive violence is the simplest, laziest, most exciting, uncomplicated, irrational and primitive image of evil the world has ever known. Furthermore, its orientation towards evil is one into which virtually all modern children (boys especially) are socialized in the process of maturation »

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I hear it in the way we deal with conflict. This myth leads us to believe that we can solve personal conflicts in a satisfactory way by using violence in various forms.

Many of us threaten our children with punishment or loss of rewards if they do not do what we ask of them. In this way we forward to our children the idea that conflicts can be solved with violence.
We blame our partners, colleagues and others who do not do what we want, using judgments and demands. This way of communicating violently is turned outwardly, but also inwardly towards ourselves. Many of us judge and blame ourselves even harder than we judge others. »

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« It is clear that retaliation and revenge are based on this myth, but perhaps not as obvious as that both our education and our legal systems are also governed in many cases by these ideas. If we are really interested in finding other ways than coercion, rewards or punishments to affect our environment, we will benefit from realizing that violence never or seldom leads to harmony »


Extracted from : Liv Larsson. « Anger, Guilt and Shame Reclaiming power and choice. » Apple Books.

« Wink, Walter (2000), The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium. Doubleday Image. He calls a system where a few people control many people, “a domination culture”. »


  1. it is a form of cognitive bias, which makes us confuse cause and correlation, as in the sentence “all men who drank water are dead”. 
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