14 Aug Heavy heart for victims of violent hate crimes in Charlottesville (And elsewhere)
What Happened to Non-Violence?
After reading news reports about the tragedy in Charlottesville on Saturday, and knowing that violence is on the rise here and abroad, I feel disgusted and compelled to think about why our nation has turned its back on one of the most powerful and proven political tools of a civilized society. That tool is NON-VIOLENCE.
How individuals and groups respond to differing points of view as a community, a state, a nation and a world is a question appropriate for all of us to be asking in the wake of Saturday.
My intention is not to proclaim that protesting the removal of what are to some sacred monuments is right or wrong. Or to say that counter protestors are right or wrong. As you can imagine, I have my opinion, but that is another discussion.
Shooting nine people in a church, driving a car into a crowd of protesters, opening gun fire on a gathering of people, stabbing innocent citizens as they walk down the street is another story. It is about hate and not freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.
As a people, we are becoming seemingly less tolerant of differences and the rights of individuals and groups to express their view in a civil manner without being physically attacked by the less tolerant.
The US Constitution speaks eloquently in the First Amendment about the right to assemble and freedom of speech.
There are numerous Biblical references to an “eye for an eye” and/or a “tooth for a tooth” suggesting revenge is acceptable. But there are others that suggest non-violence. One that strikes me can be found in Matthew (5:38-42) in the New Testament, (where) Jesus repudiates even that notion. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. . .”
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind” said Gandhi, the renowned leader of the Indian nationalist movement against British rule, and a great voice for freedom and independence.
Dr Martin Luther King wrote ‘‘nonviolent resistance,’’ is ‘‘a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of love’’ . Both ‘‘morally and practically’’ committed to nonviolence, King believed that ‘‘the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhi method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”
Closer to home, if we take time to go into the classrooms of our schools and hear lessons on bullying where students are taught the most powerful way to confront a bully is turn your back and walk the other way. Talk about a meaningful way to take the wind out of an adversary’s sails?
The issue of monuments — when, why and where were they erected is not unimportant. As we explore history through the opening of the exploration of the period of Reconstruction, we are going to have to look at multiple “sides”, differing versions of stories and the entire period in our history. This will be a time to be mindful of others including those who learn new stories and those whose old stories are discredited. We are in this together and let’s remain mindful and respectful of each other. That is one of our founding principles that cannot get lost in hate, in disrespect or though violence.
The Vigil Monday Night at the Park