Violent Reactions

Man, I better study faster! People are going nuts over the healthcare bill, while I’ve been listening to a series of lectures on Academic Earth on Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s a whole class on non-violent resistance. So far it’s pretty interesting. I’m up to the 5th lecture.

The professor did say something that I thought was strange. He said Jesus was an advocate of non-violence but Christians are not. I thought it was strange because I’m a Christian and here I sit for over an hour at a time listening to this man. I wondered how many Christians he knows? He’s off in his Academic Berkley World and I’m in Texas. I’m not likely to cross paths with him. I wish I could meet him; I’d love to sit down and have a conversation. What he said bothers me about as much as what the brick throwing, ugly phone callers are doing. I know that sounds shocking, but I think there is a lot of what we could call “seed power” in an idea.

What he is doing – characterizing all Christians as preferring violence over non-violent solutions – is as wrong-headed as Christians who characterize all liberals as immoral, uncaring people. And why it bothers me so much is that it’s dangerous. We don’t see each other as people, as flesh and blood human beings, when we paint with the wide brush. When we lose sight of our common humanity, we become capable of acts of violence, based only on a philosophical disagreement.

I’ve been thinking about John 17 today. Jesus didn’t pray that those who are called by His name – Christian – would be known for our opinions, doctrine, or moral lifestyle. He prayed that we would be one with Him and that the love of God would be in us. How ought we to behave if that is so? (Check I Corinthians 13.)

Since the bill was passed, I’ve not only had to pay attention to my reaction to that – to know that God takes care of me, regardless of what any government does, and to have a peaceful and joyful attitude in His presence (we live our lives Coram Deo – before the face of God) – now I need to watch my attitude toward those who are reacting violently. I need to pray for them, as well as pray for the protection of those they have threatened.

In every group there are extremists, and it’s interesting how that comes about. I recently read  – somewhere, I don’t remember where – that when we only associate with folks who think like we do that is how extremists are ‘born’. The views, whether liberal, conservative, religious, or whatever, are accepted by all in the group of like-minded folks. No one wants to be lost in the crowd, so what happens is someone will become “more” of whatever the group is. This makes that one stand out in the crowd while also gaining approval of the group. Then someone else who doesn’t want to get lost in the crowd becomes “more”.  And so it goes.

I think the solution is to mix and mingle. Let’s practice a bit of prevention here. It will be good for all of us. Go to websites and coffee shops and ask questions of those you disagree with. Get to know them a bit. Not just for their views, but know about their families and their jobs and their interests. Know your neighbors as much as you can, too. Let’s all – no matter what our political or religious views – let’s all have peace as our purpose. We do all have to live together. And I can’t think of a better way to invite a heavy-handed government solution to violence than to behave in a violent manner. So, everybody just take a deep breath and slow down, please.