Thoughts on Non-Violence

Generally, I ascribe to the nonviolent tradition. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Love is the only thing that can turn an enemy into a friend.” I thought about King’s 6 principles of nonviolence and I considered agape love, the demonstration of humility, simplicity and compassion. In truth, if we are to model ourselves after Christ, nonviolence is the only answer. He taught this to us through His actions, such as in Luke 22:51 when “Jesus said, “No more of this!! (striking with the sword).” We are told the weapons we are meant to use are different in 2 Corinthians 10:4, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”

That being said, I struggle because there are very limited times in which I think “violence” should be used as a shield. In the modern era there are very few instances in which I think we are able to acceptably respond with violence. A quote from Ghandi tells us that, “An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind.”  I agree with this. But I studied the Holocaust in depth and cannot think of a way in which nonviolent action would have stopped what happened then, unless people had acted in defense of their neighbors early on when the Nazi Party first started promoting discrimination against a group of people based on their faith, race or ethnicity. Additionally, there are places now where mass genocide is occurring. In these instances, I believe some force must be applied to act as armor, a protecting shield for the victims. Proverbs 13:2 says “The unfaithful have a craving for violence.” This force should not be used as a hammer to smash the perpetrators into the ground or a satisfaction of vengeance but only for protection and rescue.