John’s been on a roll lately in his NCR column as he does his book tour around the US…here’s just a couple of selections…click the links for the whole article.
I’ve encountered many activists over the years, and a good many seething with anger. And who would blame them? But I’ve learned that in the end, anger consumes our heart’s energies and can lead us to abandon our work for justice and peace. We saw this in the 1960s when many young people railed against the Vietnam War and their anger erupted in violent protests. Because they did not go beyond their anger into the spiritual roots of peacemaking, I think many gave up the journey to peace.
My own experience seems to bear that out. The more you learn about injustice, war and poverty, the more overwhelmed you can get. Things are far worse, you discover, than you first realized. Anger is often the first emotion on the scene. But anger doesn’t sustain you for the long haul work of lifelong peacemaking and nonviolent resistance.
Everywhere I go, someone asks, “Are you saying we cannot use violence any more?” Yes, I answer. “How then do we defend ourselves from someone who intends to do us harm? How do we defend ourselves from terrorists who want to hurt us? How do we defend ourselves from other nations?” “Nonviolently!” I answer.
We’re so used to violence. We easily believe the myth of redemptive violence, the lie of war, the false spirituality of violence, the misguided notion that might makes right, that war is justified, that our weapons protect us, that violence works. I suspect we don’t trust God, don’t think God can protect us, don’t take Jesus seriously. In the end, such questions reveal our lack of faith. Do we believe in the God of peace or not?