It seems like such an obvious statement but with recent, and not so recent events, feels like something that needs to be said: I do not like violence.
I have a visceral reaction every time news of another attack, another shooting, another horrific act breaks. I don’t sleep well because I know there’s violence on our streets, violence in our homes, and violence in our hearts.
I don’t like violence.
I don’t like that I live in a country that not only accepts violence as a part of our lives but defends, excuses, encourages, and frankly celebrates it as necessary, natural, or entertaining.
I don’t like that I live in a country where the gun lobby has a strangle hold on any and all legislation that might take a few more guns off the streets or make it a little harder to purchase weapons whose sole purpose is mass destruction.
I don’t like that I live in a country where rather than address the root causes of violence we simply make children feel like criminals in their own schools with more metal detectors, more locker searches, and more police.
I don’t like that I live in a country where we’re quick to shift blame rather than engage in an honest conversation about real alternatives.
The equation of pacifism with passive must stop. As people of faith- whether pacifists or not- we must stand together and say we will no longer be held hostage by this straw man argument. We must stand together and choose nonviolence because it’s hard and it’s direct and it’s essential. William Sloane Coffin, former Senior Minister of the Riverside Church in New York City and professional rabble-rouser, put it this way; “The trouble with violence is that it changes not too much, but too little. Nonviolence is more radical because it is more truthful. Violence always ends up calling on lies to defend it, just as lies call on violence to defend them. By contrast, truth is naked, vulnerable as Christ, its only weapon Christ’s own, God’s love.”
With each shooting in a movie theater or a school or a temple or a mall or a home or a street corner or a war-torn neighborhood across the globe I inhale deeply the pain and brokenness of a world ripped apart, a culture that justifies, and a nation that rationalizes and I exhale the only prayer I can: “Strengthen the hands that work for peace, O God.”
And as those hands are strengthened, so too hearts and minds might be strengthened as we must just shake this addiction to violence.