Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Okay, I got your non-violence for you

Expat had an interesting post the other day and effectively challenged me to respond to it with my usual Wednesday posting. This is an extremely busy week for me as I am still teaching summer school during the day and our church is doing our Vacation Bible School in the evening - which means I have about an hour of time in between the two to do anything else (like blogging) - so I'm giving myself an out here from the get go when this ends up overly rushed and likely with gaps to fill. And I'm going to throw it out now on Tuesday afternoon here in the States, since it's almost Wednesday for Expat anyways and if I don't, I'll likely forget about it. Since I'm not sure I have the time or energy to come up with a totally fresh and new blog, I'm going to just shamelessly quote ExPat and respond to it (and maybe a little from Hefe's comment, too).

"Is non-violence really an option? "

* Absolutely. To me, this is actually where the discussion effectively ends, because if you have the choice between a violent option and a non-violent option, the choice is ridiculously easy to make.

"I think that is utter foolishness."

And from Hefe "The over simple "if we stop being mean, they'll stop being mean" policy is absurd and preposterous."

* Based on what? Those are some strong words - "foolishness", "absurd", "preposterous". But why? Have we TRIED that policy? Not remotely. No, we run to almost the opposite extreme and strive to give terrorist and others piles of reasons to want to attack us. Let's be blunt and honest about this - how many third world countries are out there getting attacked by terrorists from the Middle East? And how many attacks are there in North America and Europe compared to the attacks that are done in the Middle East by others from the Middle East? Terrorists don't attack just because they randomly decided they want to blow something or someone up. They have their reasons and some countries and their leaders provide a lot more reasons to be targeted and some provide absolutely zero reason to be targeted. And a non-violent approach brings you a LOT closer to not being a target.

" I do believe that as Christians we should practice non-violence in our lives, but that the State falls into a different category."

* So then the State is incapable of being operated with Christian principles? What was the point of this blog then, Expat?

" Sometimes it will need to use violence to reach those ends because evil exists in our world. "

* That implies the only way to counter evil is with violence. That is a truly absurd and ridiculous idea.

"tell me how anything other than a violent/war-like response is required."

"1) In Somalia, where there is no established central government, Al-Qaeda has set up a training base. Intelligence estimates that between 1,000-2,000 terrorists go through there every month. Those terrorists are then returning to their home country, but some are moving into Europe and North America. What other option is there besides blowing the base up and killing everyone there?"

* There is the option of helping Somalia establish a government that is unfriendly to Al Qaeda. There is the option of operating our own country in a fashion that terrorists have no motivation to want to attack us. There is the option of arresting the terrorists and confining them so they don't have the option of killing others. There are lots of other options. The problem here is that you have defeated yourself by your word choice - you acknowledge that there are "other option"s, yet you want to suppose that the violent one is "required". NOTHING is required - if there was, it wouldn't have options. It would have one REQUIRED response - but you know that's not the case. You may like the violent option and/or you may think it's the best at getting your desired result, but you clearly know there are other options and that by definition defeats your notion that any of them is required in this situation.

"2) America has rock-solid intelligence that Osama Bin Laden is in a certain 40 square mile area of northern Pakistan. Pakistan will not let American forces enter their sovereign territory regardless of the intelligence. They refuse to budge on this and promise a military reprisal if we cross into their land. Assuming our leader truly wanted to apprehend Osama Bin Laden, wouldn't the only appropriate response be to launch an offensive on that 40 square mile area of Pakistan and then, if Pakistan kept its promise, to go to war with Pakistan?"

* Now we've gone from a "required" response to an "appropriate" one. No, that's not the only "appropriate" response. What is "appropriate" about the slaughtering of thousands of innocent Pakinstanis in an effort to get one guy - whose capture won't do one bit of good in actual stopping of Al Qaeda or terrorism overall? Osama bin Laden is a symbol and the capture and killing of him will do nothing but make blood thirsty Americans eager to catch and kill more people for whatever terrorism they suspect they have done and it will make more terrorists that much eager to attack America and it's people and allies. If the new Iraqi president wanted to come into London and kill a visiting George W. Bush in retaliation for the thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqi's his assault has claimed, would it be "appropriate" for them to bomb away on the United Kingdom?

"Don't turn this into a discussion about Iraq. "

* Interesting. You want to put this debate on the back of two hypotheticals about specific situations in specific countries and even with specific people in one of them, but using actual reality is not allowed? Sounds to me like non-violence is just too right on in reality and pro-violence only works in theory.

"I used to think that non-violence was the best foreign policy, but these last days have truly shaken that belief. A previously unknown, but increasingly vocal, part of me wants to find the guys that bombed the Underground and kill them mercilessly. Then find whoever helped them financially, spiritually, educationally, etc. and kill them mercilessly. "

* And you think that's the appropriate and required response Jesus wants us to have? Or is that the human emotional element that He knew we all had so potently within us - which is exactly why he taught 'turn the other cheek' responses? And let's not limit ourselves to only remembering Matthew 5:39, because that very same chapter offers some other important instructions from Jesus himself that certainly apply here.

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable tjudgementt.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother [2] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults [3] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell [4] of fire.


43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, [8] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

"Turning the other cheek doesn't seem like an answer. It seems like a surrender."

* Non-violence is a surrender - but it's a surrender to God. A violent response isn't going to bring back what the terrorists took away. It's not going to wipe out the terrorists or give them less cause to keep doing what they are doing. You're a history guy, look at the track record. Terrorism continues to be on the rise and so does ultra-violent responses to it. No one is winning this - we're all just making it bigger and worse and more costly. You are now claiming you have the desire to take another life without mercy. Where does that road take you?

I have to go. I hope I didn't rush through this too much and what it says at least makes sense, whether you agree with it or not. I think the whole discussion for me comes down to three pretty simple points:
1) It's illogical and wrong and conceptually suicidal to think that killing someone is the right response because you think they were wrong to want to kill someone.
2) It's clearly not the message of Jesus or the Bible that violence is the preferred response in any situation short of God Himself coming and telling you as much.
3) You always have a choice and every choice has it's consequences. Peaceful choices tend to have positive ones, violent choices tend to have negative ones - almost all the time. The math truly is that simple.