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Our Peace and War...

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Are We Violent?
By A Christian Woman
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Violence begets violence.

Editor’s note: Based on the author's request, name is withheld to be identified as an anonymous writer.

I have been very challenged by recent events on the news: atrocities in Afghanistan, escalating tension in the Middle East and military crack downs in Syria.

These things seem of such magnitude that I don’t know how to respond. I am stirred to think about my own life, relatively secure and comfortable in comparison to the mayhem and terror depicted on our screens. Images confront me to consider my own behavior, attitudes and actions.

What can I do in the face of such events? Should I bother to even think that I can do something? Yes, my conviction is that such events throw me back on myself.  In 2005 I copied out a poem by John Donne in response to the London Terrorist attacks of July 7th. “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”  It has stuck in my mind.

Violence begets violence.

I can see that violence shockingly resides latent in all of us. It resides in me, it probably resides in you. What’s happening out there is happening inside here. It is easy to dissociate and disconnect from media reports.

We may find ourselves thinking or saying “I would never do that. Those people are evil. They have nothing to do with me. I would never get involved in such terrible acts of violence.” And yet we have to face the truth that time and time again in conflicts neighbor turns against neighbor. Ordinary folk living side by side erupt into killing machines seeking to destroy anyone on the “other side”. Would I, could I, do the same? I have to ask myself the question.

My ego can block an appreciation of others.

An Enemy…

The people caught up in destructive acts didn’t start life programmed by their genes to destroy. They were ordinary people like you and me, decent and hard working. Something happened which catapulted them onto a menacing trajectory. A big disconnection or schism occurred, a shattering geological fault.

Neighbors lost their common bond of humanity. They saw each other as “not like us”, “different”, “an enemy”, “a threat” “not human”. Fellow human beings morphed into something so intolerable that they must be obliterated lest they uproot or destabilize us. Psychic negativity fanned by unrest, dissatisfaction or historical tragedy spreads like wild fire. Tensions simmering in the cooking pot of group psyche bubble up and boil over into bloodshed and massacre. It is indeed a time of crucifixion and deep suffering.

This draws me back to myself and I find these truths very uncomfortable. If I look honestly I can see the seeds of destruction in my own heart. I am capable of cruelty, anger, deceit. My ego can block an appreciation of others. It can cause me to be jealous, to blame and not to forgive. I can lose connectivity with others and desire their pain and downfall. So when I hear and see an accentuation of these aspects acted out on the world stage, I am convinced that I must keep looking at myself. I need to keep examining my soul, repenting of what is not good in my life. I am resolved to strive for goodness.

Through God’s acceptance we can accept others. With His enabling we can hold in check our desire to dominate or belittle, to humiliate or shame.

Soil of Our Heart

The human heart has great capacity to show love and compassion, to reflect our Creator’s likeness, but we need to nurture and protect these precious qualities to help them flourish. 

Love and compassion are the tools for harmonious living and peaceful existence. They are the antidote to hatred. I am reminded of the importance of daily discipline to cultivate the soil of our hearts to enable such healing seeds to grow.

We need to strengthen our connection to each other through connecting to God in quiet meditation (prayer) and desiring the best for each other.

At Easter, we, Christian people, celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It is an event of immense hope and reconciliation. It allows us humans a new beginning and a chance for things to be different. It allows us to tap into God’s cosmic love and accept ourselves as we are, frail and often ego-driven.

Through God’s acceptance we can accept others. With His enabling we can hold in check our desire to dominate or belittle, to humiliate or shame.

So we return to John Donne: No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

This piece was first published on Christian Muslim Forum. It is re-published here with kind permission.

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