Posted by: nmontague | July 22, 2010

Nurturing Non-violence

I’ve had the issue of violence in society on my mind the last few days. In fact, I was planning to talk about this the other day when I wrote the other blog. I wasn’t inspired then. I think I am now though.

We live in a violent world. In fact, much of the world is governed by the violent use of force. Much of the world is in tyranny. Many governments are oppressive. In fact, our Republic based on individual liberties and freedom is unique in the history of the world specifically because we don’t have a central government trying to tell us what to do and enslaving us.

Look at the media. There is violence everywhere in it. In movies. In video games. Heck, even some music praises violence. Now, I know some people don’t think what we watch and listen to for entertainment matters. We know reality from fantasy. But can we honestly say what we watch and listen to doesn’t effect us at all? Just remember that corporations spend billions of dollars every year for 30 second advertisements because they think it will convince you to buy their products. Politicians will spend Billions of dollars every election cycle because they know advertisement will convince you to vote for them. Now if 30 second Advertisements can influence our purchase and voting habits, do you honestly think hours and hours of violence on TV or in  video games doesn’t?

Am I asking you to shun all forms of entertainment? No. But I think it is wise to be aware that what we take in stays in your minds and effects our world view. Even without us realizing it. We need to be aware of what we do in our lives, the way we think, what is going on around us if we are going to have any ability to make choices that affect our life.

Now, I think it’s very important we start developing our abilities to act strong with faith and yet remain non-violent. I don’t think Jesus was just preaching some ideal when He said we need to “Turn the other cheek”. If we look back to the reason behind the Great Flood that covered the whole world, God gave His reason clearly:

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:11-13)
It was their corrupt and violence that force God’s hand for the Flood. Interesting, isn’t it? And we are told that the last days will be as the days of Noah.
Isn’t it also interesting that some of the most powerful movements have succeeded specifically because they were non-violent. Gandhi, for example, freed India from British Rule with Non-violence. Martin Luther King Jr lead the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s to change the landscape of society through non-violence.
And why were these movements sucessful? Because they changed hearts. They changed who people were inside. They didn’t force this change on people. They didn’t threaten to kill people unless they agreed with their viewpoints. They risked death to avoid hurtng others. They were seeking reconciliation, not control. Freedom and unity, not kingship and oppression.
Where are our hearts in this? Are our hearts violent? Do we seek contention or reconciliation? Do we want to build each up or tear each other down? We need this principle in our lives. How many families are torn apart because one or all of the family members are violent toward each other? This isn’t right.

How many people have no problem threatening someone if they disagree with them on an internet chatboard? Do you hate someone because of politics? Would you be happy if someone died because you disagree with what they say or what they have done? This isn’t right. It doesn’t bring reconciliation. Not with you, not with your brother, not with God.

Human nature hasn’t changed. We may be living in relatively peaceful times, but unless we short-circuit the cycle, we will quickly end up repeating the same mistakes that are scattered throughout history. We aren’t better than our ancestors just because we have more knowledge available to us or technology they never dreamed of. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They had much less to work with. They had less opportnities to learn. They had less knowledge available. They didn’t have the comfort we had. and they did far more with it that we do with what we have. We wouldn’t be where we are without the efforts of our ancestors. We aren’t better than them. We aren’t worse than them either.
We are just as human. and just as prone to the same violent mistakes that occured in the past. Saying it can’t happen here is just pride. It can and will unless we nuture non-violence in our hearts. We need to do this on an individual basis. We need our hearts to change and we need to act so that God can work to do the same in others through us.
Where do we start this? Well, I was reading Martin Luther King Jr’s principles of non-violence and the pledge. That seems a good place to start. The Principles and Pledge are as follows:

The Five Principles of Non-violence

1. Non-violent resistance is not a method for cowards. It does resist. The nonviolent resister is just as strongly opposed to the evil against which he protests, as is the person who uses violence. His method is passive or nonaggressive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, but his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade the opponent that he is mistaken. This method is passive physically but strongly active spiritually; it is nonaggressive physically but dynamically aggressive spiritually.

2. Nonviolent resistance does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation but he realizes that noncooperation is not the ends itself; it is merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent.

3. The attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who are caught in those forces. It is a struggle between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.

4. Nonviolent resistance avoids not only external physical violence, but also internal violence of spirit. At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.

5. Nonviolence is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice. It is the deep faith in the future that allows a nonviolent resister to accept suffering without retaliation. The nonviolent resister knows that in his struggle for justice, he has a cosmic companionship.

The Non-violence Pledge

1. As you prepare to march meditate on the life and teachings of Jesus

2. Remember the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation – not victory.

3. Walk and talk in the manner of love; for God is love.

4. Pray daily to be used by God that all men and women might be free.

5. Sacrifice personal wishes that all might be free.

6. Observe with friend and foes the ordinary rules of courtesy.

7. Perform regular service for others and the world.

8. Refrain from violence of fist, tongue and heart.

9. Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.

10. Follow the directions of the movement leaders and of the captains on demonstrations

I’m not telling you to go out marching anywhere. Where would you go to? But I think we can learn from these principles and this pledge ways that we can govern our lives so that we can be a reconcilor instead of use violence. Violence doesn’t win hearts. We need to develop this principles now so that when the time comes that we need it. When the pressure is on us to make a snap decision, we will have already prepared ourselves and made one. We won’t act out of fear. We won’t act out of hate. We will instead act out of love for others. Every great movement starts in the heart of individuals.

The 20th century was the most violent in the known history of the world. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether this century will be more violent, or if we will change that. The choice is up to you.

Challenges:

1) Take an honest look at your heart. Are you violent or are you a reconcilor? Which do you want to be? Make a choice and live it. Ask God to help you in that choice.

2) Be aware of the media you suround yourself with. Does it uplift? Does it edify? Does it encourage unity and reconciliation with your fellow man, or violence? Make a choice to suround yourself with more uplifting choices of entertainment.

3) Ponder the principles of Nonviolence and MLK’s pledge. What can you do to apply those in your life?

This blog was longer than I was originally expecting. Thank you for reading. It means a lot to me that you would spend your time reading it. I know you could be doing other things.

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Responses

  1. I just tried to post this, so if I send it in twice, please delete one! Anyway, I enjoyed this post. Very thoughtful and thorough! I like these lines:

    “When the pressure is on us to make a snap decision, we will have already prepared ourselves and made one. We won’t act out of fear. We won’t act out of hate. We will instead act out of love for others.”

    I agree with you that what we watch and listen to affects us more than we might think. I avert my eyes when watching TV if there are violent previews…even those short previews will give me nightmares! I like the Jack Johnson song that addresses this…can’t think of the title. One of the lines is, “If we want hell, then hell’s what we’ll have.”


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