It's been a while since I've checked in, with it being the final week of the semester and such. My mind has been busy with a paper on the non-violent atonement, and with Biblical Greek, though not so much with Biblical Greek! Thinking of non-violence, however, has led me to consider the last four years of my life, spent working with many folks who do not place much stock in non-violence as an appropriate response to very much of anything.
I have spent much time in the recent years with the homeless community of Grand Rapid, and the last year with some pretty broken teens. Of course, my ideal is that I will always introduce non-violence as a way of life to the communities I work with, hoping that they might "see the light" and refute violence, and embrace conflict resolution techniques that will solve every problem and lead to world peace.
What I have learned is that it is primarily my self that needs to recommit to certain principles, but understand that non-violence is not achieved easily, nor is reconciliation, nor is justice. I am often confronted with crisis, sometime physical danger, and while I have never taken a swing at anyone, I have had to break up fights, wrestle people to the ground, and otherwise act in ways that seemingly (not seemingly, they in fact do) conflict with principles of non-violence.
My point is not that non-violence is unachievable, but that it is hard work. When we work with at-risk or oppressed communities, or even our loving neighbors, we are often confronted with the reality of violence that permeates our society.
After calling myself a pacifist for a few years, God actually put me to the test. I have come to realize that while I make many claims about non-violence, I am indeed a sinner, and I thank God for the grace I receive when I fail to love my neighbor, and when I fail to reflect God's loving will for all of creation.
The work of Jesus was tough work, and he calls us to do the same. My prayer for the night is that I might learn from my failings, to help others respond to crisis more lovingly than I often do, and that I may someday be able to contain my impulses that often guide my response to troubled and broken people and situations.