Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Violence is a way that seems to work. When one gets the upper hand over another, the issue seems to be resolved in favor of the 'winner'. But is that ever really the case? Are we not always left with unresolved issues that will need to be worked out in the future? And, if violence is the way that seems to have worked, will we not be more likely to employ it next time?

A number of years ago a member of our family was preparing to enlist to fight the war in Iraq. Nancy and I had taken a vow of nonviolence years before that, so it was not surprising that we voiced our objection to sending this young man off to be a Marine. It is also not surprising that we were laughed at and our voices left unheard. He joined and went.

Before that, even, we were laughed at whenever we attempted to voice an alternative response to the horrible events of 9/11. Would war really be the best way to lead to peace in the world? We were very lonely then. I went out with a sign that said simply, "Say No To War". People driving by threw things. They made gestures. They shouted out their windows at me. We put the sign in the window of our home and it gained us no new friends. We wrote a letter to the editor of our hometown newspaper and became the target of written animosity.

Now everyone is tired of war. The truths we tried to convey then still hold true today. But has anyone learned anything from these years and years of war, or will we simply be led into another bloody war after this one? And another after that? Our family member went to Iraq for two tours. He was not killed. He came back injured in body and mind. He has turned to alcohol and his anger cannot seem to be contained. What a tragedy his life is turning out to be.

"What are we to do?" people are asking now. (Especially now as we approach Christmas day). "How can we fight evil without becoming evil ourselves?" Ah, there is the question. The dilemma is created by our addiction to violence. Because violence seems to work, and doesn't, we hopefully choose it every time, only to have our hopes dashed. The problem seems too large and thus seems to have no solution. But, as with nearly every problem, we can reduce it in order to find a solution. If I personally choose the moral way of nonviolence - if I choose not to participate in violence - I will have solved the problem of war for myself. I cannot say what others will do. I cannot say what my government will do. But as for me, I choose the only sane way open to us. My writing reflects this stand.

I wonder if others will have the courage to choose a new way, or if the new year will simply be an extension of last year's moral dilemma. May you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Jim and Nancy

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