Beloved Children of God

Nonviolence

Beloved Children of God
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Because it is crucial to our understanding of nonviolence, let me repeat: The root of violence is the illusion of separation—from God, from Being itself, from being somehow one with everyone and everything. Most of our conflicts arise from a very fragile sense of the self. When we’re full of fear, the enemy is everywhere. We endlessly look for the problem outside of ourselves so we can expel or exterminate it. If a prophetic peacemaker attempts to take our chosen object of hatred away from us, we turn our hatred on them. Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others were persecuted or killed because they challenged the myth of scapegoating. If we don’t own our own evil, we will always project it elsewhere and attack it there.

Only people who recognize their own evil, or at least their complicity in evil, stop this unconscious scapegoating pattern. Their experience of radical union with God makes it possible for them to own their own shadow, their own capacity for evil, and not need to hate it in other people. Fully conscious people do not scapegoat; unconscious people do almost nothing else.

On the fiftieth World Day of Peace, Pope Francis said:

I wish peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our “deepest dignity,” and make active nonviolence our way of life. [1]

How can we make nonviolence a way of life? Last week we heard from John Dear, nonviolent activist and author, and I’d like to share more of his words:

Practicing nonviolence means claiming our fundamental identity as the beloved sons and daughters of the God of peace, and thus, going forth into the world of war as peacemakers to love every other human being. . . . The problem is: we don’t know who we are. . . . The challenge then is to remember who we are, and therefore be nonviolent to ourselves and others.

Living nonviolence requires daily meditation, contemplation, study, concentration, and mindfulness. Just as mindlessness leads to violence, steady mindfulness and conscious awareness of our true identities lead to nonviolence and peace. The deeper we go into mindful nonviolence, the more we live the truth of our identity as sisters and brothers of one another, and sons and daughters of the God of peace. The social, economic, and political implications of this practice are astounding: if we are sons and daughters of a loving Creator, then every human being is our sister and brother, and we can never hurt anyone on earth ever again, much less be silent in the face of war, starvation, racism, sexism, nuclear weapons, systemic injustice, and environmental destruction. [2]

Gateway to Silence:
Love your enemies.

References:
[1] Pope Francis, “Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Celebration of the Fiftieth World Day of Peace,” January 1, 2017, w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20161208_messaggio-l-giornata-mondiale-pace-2017.html.
[2] John Dear, The Nonviolent Life (Pace e Bene Press: 2013), 15-17. Note that Pace e Bene and John Dear are leading a Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions, September 16-24. Learn more at paceebene.org/programs/campaign-nonviolence/ .

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Jesus: Forgiving Victim, Transforming Savior,” On Transformation: Collected Talks, vol. 1, disc 1 (Franciscan Media: 1997), CD.

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