When I first heard the term ‘slow violence’, the image of someone being slowly strangled or smothered popped into my head, because that is violence in a slow speed and then you get a gunshot, which is fast? Well, that is what I, superficially, thought.
According to Nixon (2011) slow violence is “a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all.” It is therefore a change that takes place in the environment where the result of change will only be noticed in the future by another generation. Nixon (2011) places great emphasis of how the human brain works and that when something is out of sight, it is out of mind. It is thus clear that when one cannot literally see how pollution or violence to the environment is affecting other ecosystems and living organisms, one would not react to a problem that “is not there”.
Then I started racking my brain for slow violence in my community, and it was more difficult than I thought. But then it hit me. The game that could be rated as most boring to the audience is killing the environment one hectare at a time and no one bats an eye. Yes, you guessed right; it is golf. Golf and more specific, golf courses are destroying ecosystems and living organisms at a slow pace and without clear signs of violence or pollution.
This image may be confusing. For the golf course at the back is indeed not a golf course. It is a dam filled with algae floating on the water surface, making it impossible for sunlight to reach the organisms in the water, which then ultimately leads to their death. I took this photo two weeks ago at the Irene Farm. This algal bloom can release dangerous toxins into the environment which is harmful to humans and animals alike. The reason for algal bloom can be due to the release of nutrients and fertilizers (for agricultural use) contaminating the water and then causing for algae to feed on and cause this green paint like surface on the water.
When one just skim over this image, everything could look quite normal and healthy. Green has always been associated with healthy (specifically in nature terms). Don’t you just want to play with your dog on this green grass? or maybe you studied the image a bit closer and then noticed that there is a blue water bottle floating on the “grass”?
IT’S A FLOATING GOLF COURSE! And then you realise that it is impossible, but that it would actually make the game more exciting than it is.
These two swans are ‘stranded’ as they are not willing to risk going into the dam which actually is their home. The swans could get very sick if they came in contact with the contaminated water. Even so, a golf course can be compared to a dam filled with algae. Golf courses are very bad for the environment as they are actually human-created environments where the actual environment is left behind or destroyed. A lot of ecosystems and organisms become extint due to the immense overtaking of golf courses. The special grass also needs tons of water and fertilizers to stay beautiful and when this fertilized contaminated water come in contact with other fresh water sources people and animals can get sick.
And just to enforce my statement, this is the exact same dam, only two months before the previous photos. Those are the exact same swans who are enjoying their habitat as they should be able to.
But to get the dam, from how it is looking now with its greenish appearance back to its normal state, a lot needs to be done.
Then I read an article, The Case against Golf on The Guardian website where Ben Adler wrote a very true statement about golf and how it affects the environment.
” So if you turn on the TV and stumble on the US Open, pause before changing the channel. No, not to watch with bated breath as a guy in a sun-visor named Tiger or Phil swings a mallet every couple of minutes in an intense effort to poke a ball towards a tiny hole, but rather to consider whether the country could do with about 15,000 fewer places to play the silly game. After all, when you talk to someone who just came back from seeing the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park you never hear them say: “Yeah, that was nice, but you know what it really needs? A golf course.”
After reading the article, I actualy realised how immense this problem is and how it truly is a slow violence in our environment. We are slowly killing organisms and their habitats to create just another place to play a boring game where you can win mega bucks. And those mega bucks will not even help to bring the extint organisms and natural environment back to life. Just like the algae is smothering the life in that dam, the golf courses are smothering our environment with the abundant organisms true to it. We should start focusing on what is important.
Playing a boring, money-making game?
Adler, B. 2007. The case against golf. [O]. Available: