The choice today is no longer between violence and non-violence. It is either non-violence or non-existence. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Do you think Martin Luther King was correct is saying these words nearly half a century ago?
Do you there has been an increase in violence since the words were spoken?
What kinds of violence?
What do you think are the causes of violence?
Do you think non-violence is "passivity"?
Consider: The fact that, having seen the destructive capacity of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the makers continue to create larger and more lethal models. It has been pointed out that, even when we do not use them, the intent to use them already corrupts our souls.
Martin Luther King also said to his people: "Don't let them make you hate them else they've won." This is a profound tenet for non-violence, which holds the humble truth that:
- every person is my sister or brother
- every human is capable of conversion and choice
- every choice has a moral element; hate is close to fear
- which often gives rise to violent responses.
Consider: Two Stories, Two Cases: Read Daniel 13 and John's Gospel 8:3 and following the story of Suzanna's judgment by Daniel and the story of Jesus' judgment of the woman taken in adultery. In both cases the accusers were appealing to the Law. In both cases the "judge" appealed to the truth. The big difference is that Daniel assigned to the accusers the punishment meant for Suzanna and the two men were stoned to death, but Jesus bade the men examine their own behaviour and throw the first stone if they were without sin. Then he showed mercy to the woman. That day, no one died; they went away changed.
Consider: The basic idea, which we name pragmatism, is that you do whatever works to achieve your desired end. But the basic idea of non-violence is that a good thing cannot be achieved by bad means, any more than thistles can produce grapes. Violence begets violence, or in Jesus' words: "For all who take the sword will perish by the sword." Matthew 26:53
I have to begin with a conviction for non-violence in thought and heart if society or church or family or country can ever arrive at non-violence as a way of life, the Way of Life. What does God ask of us? Read Micah 6:8. Peace be with you and in you.
By Mary Alban Bouchard CSJ