I am dismayed to see this morning, yet again, that another tragic incident of mass murder has occured in our country. Sadly, the frequency of these events numbs us to their horror and paralyzes our collective action. Time and again, we read about the inability of our governments to address the issues and of our courts to maintain an equitable system of justice.
So, what is the answer? Do we lobby for tighter gun control? Do we advocate for more rational sentencing for violent crimes? Do we seek to ban televnision programming that glorifies serial killers? These are all potentially worthy responses. But, the root of the problem would remain. The root of the problem is the acceptance of violence as ever being a solution to our problems.
Now, you may immediately think, “But, what do I do when faced with the threat of violence, with the evil actions of others…do I just roll over and let them win?” My answer is no. Does this mean that we let tyrants engage in genocide? Of course not. But, we must disillusion ourselves of the notion that in the long-term violence ever breeds anything but more violence. We must begin to commit to a societal course of nonviolence if we are to ever end the stranglehold it has on our lives. What would such a commitment mean?
- We would strive toward a vision of national policy where every possible means is exhausted before ever considering aggressive military action.
- We would plan for the eventual cesassion of the production and sales of all weaponry.
- We would initiate curricular reforms in our schools to promote the principles of nonviolence and peace at every level of society.
- We would craft more fair and constructive techniques to address criminal justice challenges, starting with the elimination of the death penalty.
- We would migrate our investments in war to investments in domestic health and to ameliorating sources of violence, such as economic injustice, fear, hate, and poverty.
At the local level, what specific actions would an intentional community undertake to model a commitment to nonviolence?
- All private ownership of guns would be banned. The founders of this nation never envisioned the society of today and would have been appalled at our allowing of a fringe misreading of the Bill of Rights to directly lead to thousands of murders each year.
- Children would be taught conflict resolution skills and the community would openly and cooperatively resolve differences divorced from influences of privilege.
- Punishments for crime would involve community service and constructive action rather than incarceration.
- Physical and mental health provision would be a top priority for the community, to avoid the majority of problems that lead to violent behavior.
Like many of the illusions facing us today, the solution is about vision and finding the courage to name that vision and struggle toward its achievement. Prophets throughout history have taught us that nonviolence is the path to justice and the defense of human rights. Maybe we cannot achieve their dream in one lifetime, or even two or three. But, until we commit to achieving the vision, we will continue to read headlines about senseless death.