Where the Battle Begins

I was most pleased with the thoughtful and varied responses to my last post regarding why we are so in love with violence.  Among them were:

a) a pastor pointing to an incredible essay on the topic:  http://girardianlectionary.net/core_convictions.htm which include the idea that envy is and has been our root problem since the dawn of creation.

b) a friend pointing out that violence probably helped humanity survive and the simulations thereof might help it get it out of our system and not bring it into the real world.

c) a church elder, also a former teacher who observed in her life that violence is more and more the accepted answer in society.

d) a church elder pointing out that violence has been here since the dawn of time and all we can do is tackle it one child at a time.

e) A friend rephrasing the question – ‘what can we do different that leaders in the past have not done?”

I also found a great quote since then by the Christian writer Fredrick Buechner on anger.  He writes, “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll your tongue over the prospect of better confrontations still to come, to savor that last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back-in many ways is a feast fit for a king.  The chief drawback is that you are wolfing down yourself.  The skeleton at the feast is you.”

While I agree with my friend who contends that violence has helped us to survive, I also believe that it is imperative for us to redirect that tendency, and it is vital for our very survival to do so.   To my other friend, on what we need to do differently question, I hope to begin that dialog here. 

We have many tendencies which helped us to survive in bygone days that may not be at all helpful to us today.  The urge to hoard, the urge to overeat, the urge to be distrustful of neighbors – all come from a much earlier era of humanity where goods were scarce and you hoarded what you could, and often fought for it, so that you and your family could live another day.  But leaning into those tendencies today causes us to grossly overuse resources, not share with neighbors who desperately need it (when we could easily afford to do so), and most of all, to ultimately be consuming ourselves body and soul.

Jesus knew human nature and Jesus was a fighter.  But Jesus fought against violence.  He never returned violence for violence.  He cared for people who wanted him dead.  God ordained his way holy.  Jesus showed a new way of life, not for who the people were, but for who they could be.  He showed us what it meant to reach beyond our natural selves and how to really be fully human.  But do you want to know who I think would have shown up on a camera had one been there to film Jesus in the wilderness during the temptations?  Only Jesus.  Yet the temptations were very real for him.  They are very real for us.

The fight begins inside.  A real warrior’s battle begins within.  Once successful, the fight turns into working for one another instead of against one another.

But are we up to it?  

What do you think?

Until next time,

Tom

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2 thoughts on “Where the Battle Begins

  1. In my attempt to point to where our connection to violence comes from, I tried to draw from several sources. Here I want to further clarify my musings on God being partly a ”source” or ”inspiration” of violence. The facet of violence in its potential to enforce a ”will” is where I think God partly inspires our fascination with violence.Knowing of his ultimate ability to enforce his will through ”ten thousand angels” as the song goes, through the angels at Edens door, the flood, the seraphs at his throne, or Jesus getting physical at the temple…to name a few, we take comfort in knowing God has tools to make things go his way.

    Ultimately it seems violence is a tool, albeit not a preferred method. Howeve, at each turn, Jesus seemed to promote peace and forgiveness when teaching us to deal with each other. I believe when Jesus came he knew we already had the violence thing going on pretty well as a species and knew we didn’t need to hear how to enact it further. We needed to learn more of peace and forgiveness, and love.

    I leave with the idea that we appreciate/fear/respect violence in its ability to protect good things, survive, and set right what is wrong. I dare say each of us would resort to violence to protect our families and friends if necessary.

  2. Thanks for sharing the link from the Girrdian lectionary site – I am looking forward to more conversation with you!

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