Monday, January 17, 2011

More on Violence Control

On my way to pickup the papers last Friday, I glanced at my car's outside thermometer and was reminded of the movie The Golden Child where Eddie Murphy is crossing the path of logs to get to the special dagger and asks how many people successfully completed that same challenge. When he hears the answer, he repeats it: None, None!!. In the case of my car's thermometer, I was repeating One, One.

I was in an especially positive mood within the first 15 minutes of Saturday's delivery because I saw a herd (what qualifies as a herd by the way; 6, 8, 15?) of deer on Harvest Lane. Eight deer were in the midst of crossing the road as I approached and two more were about to cross but turned around when they saw my headlights. I lowered both windows and greeted them with a hearty "Good morning".

In my last blog, I suggested that we should reframe the issue of gun control as a violence control issue. Of course, there is an inherent problem in doing this as violence is part of our American culture as well as part of our human nature. I have even had people tell me that it is only through bursts of violence that all the important advances to humanity have occurred. One could even argue that the very basis of how we mark the passage of time began with as grisly a death as imaginable; a crucifixion.

"We justify our bloody deeds in the name of destiny and in the name of God". (From the Last Resort by the Eagles, on the album Hotel California).

Nonetheless, I remain hopeful that we are slowly (agonizingly slowly) evolving away from violence as a means to address our problems. From country on country to man on man (or woman), our use of violence has reduced over time.

Yes, countries still drop bombs on each other, mobilize troops at each others' borders and actually invade each other, but generally these actions follow an attempt at diplomacy, and even after the onset of hostilities, lines of communication remain open and other nations intercede to help negotiate a ceasefire.

And certainly, as individuals we continue to wrangle over resources and occasionally murder each other but most nations have developed laws which make killing illegal and the vast majority of people respect and honor those laws.

To me, one of the critical concepts we must address is: might makes right. Whether it is the wronged innocent who exacts vengeance on their unpunished attacker or the belief that the victor in a war must have had god on their side, this concept permeates our existence. What is truly striking is that, at least in America, we take pride in our christian values yet conveniently forget that the foundation of those values, Jesus Christ, did not "win" his earthly battle with those that held the power in his time.

So, if might makes right, doesn't that mean that at various times in man's history, some of the most ruthless men and their nations were in the right?

Perhaps might needs to be defined in a different way? Perhaps the "right" path is the one which involves the least amount of physical might as that kind of might can so easily lead to an arrogance that values some lives over others. Perhaps the preoccupation with might and the belief that "right" can be won is, in fact, the exact opposite of the message of Christ. Perhaps believing in one's might to make right has everything to do with living a life demonstrating the example lived by Jesus and nothing to do with the might derived from weapons.

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