All of us are concerned about the rise of violence in our closely connected world. No longer can we disconnect the United States from the violence across the world—-but even if we could, we would still have an extremely large amount of violence to deal with in our own country.
I’m not going to catalog all that is going on, as I know that you are aware of it. Violence and death in the Middle East and Africa, especially at the hands of ISIS and other extremists groups, that is now extending to attacks on the U.S. by our own citizens who have been trained by these groups. The usual practice of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” has been extended to killing as many innocent people as possible in retribution for suspected wrongs or for not being the right religion. Terrorism is a world-wide threat.
In our own country (the U.S.) there is increasing violence and death at each other’s hands. We are a gun culture and guns, due to the political influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association) are proliferating at an alarming rate. Kansas, for example just passed a law allowing open carry and also concealed carry without any training and guns are allowed in most public buildings and everywhere not posted.
We live in a country where civilian paramilitary groups with a paranoid fear of the federal government are stockpiling rations and weapons because they fear, rightly or wrongly, that their own government is going to attack them. Most of us live in an urban environment where life is increasingly cheap—there are shootings almost every day in Wichita, KS where I live. People do not trust law enforcement and law enforcement does not trust people and the result is that people get shot by police and then riots occur over the shootings and more lives are lost. Drunken arguments that used to be solved by fist-fights too often are now solved by the use of a gun.
People have tried for centuries to bring about peace by the sword, by the gun, by the missile, and by the threat of nuclear bombs—-and still there is no peace. When will we learn that peace that is enforced by armed might is not peace? Force always involves fear and retribution and thus does not last.
There is an alternate way to peace that we have seldom tried. It is the way that a person called Jesus of Nazareth taught and lived over 2000 years ago. It is a peace not kept by the power of armed might and violence, but based on the power of love and non-violence that Jesus taught and lived. Somehow most of the Western world, while calling themselves his followers, have missed his main message of peace.
A few have glimpsed the power of this way of non-violence and love. Mahatma Ghandi was one—-Martin Luther King was another. Both achieved their aims by this method and not by armed might. Both, I might add, like Jesus, were resisted by the domination systems of their day, and were killed eventually by those who felt threatened by them. But both secured a lasting change for the better for millions of people by using the power of love and non-violence.
When are we going to stop killing each other and try this way of love and non-violence? This is the only way to true peace. We have yet to try it in our relationship with others, and on a national or international scale.