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Remembrance Day photo : Hastings Against War

Remembrance Day photo: Hastings Against War

‘Non-violence – A Style of Politics for Peace’

Does violence perpetuate violence? asks HOT’s Zelly Restorick. Has the use of violence taught you anything? Is violence a necessary element within human beings? An over-active attribute in some members of our human race? Physical violence? Mental and emotional violence? Is violence the only way? Non-rhetorical questions. Genuinely and sincerely asked.

When is violence okay? What’s your answer? Are there any conditions where violence seems an acceptable response? Pre-meditated violence? Spontaneous? At what point on its continuum is violence acceptable to you? Too much for you? We seem to live in a society where violence is fed to us by the television, movie-makers, advertisers, media… as if it’s all okay and perfectly normal way to behave.

We condemn bullies at school and want them to be cured and healed and for their aggressive violent behaviour to change – and yet we condone and accept the same on a larger scale on the world stage amongst our fellow humans, so long as our government says it’s okay.

After all, the armed forces are also fighting for their own existence, survival and funding. They fear losing their place in the world – and want to be seen to be doing something useful and valued. They want to feel needed. Just like many of us human beings.

One human’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. One human’s soldier is another’s murderer. In other places on this planet, other humans are labelling us The Enemy and The Terrorist, saying we are the ones who need to be violently eradicated; be taught a lesson we won’t forget in a hurry; have our behaviour modified with violence so we learn and accept our place in the global hierarchy that exists in some people’s minds.

Is one human’s violence, e.g. the use of a knife or gun by a gang member, different to another human’s violence, e.g. the use of drone warfare by a soldier in the pay of their government? Is there a difference?

A style of politics for peace

Here, Fiona MacGregor writes about the recent Hastings Against War talk given by Henrietta Cullinan. “Pope Francis’ New Year’s message, ‘Nonviolence – a style of politics for peace’ was the topic of Hastings Against War’s November meeting, addressed by Henrietta Cullinan, a Catholic peace activist and writer. Her talk aimed to explore the origins and context of this message – which is read out in churches – and its implications for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. (See link about World Peace Day.)

“The 2017 message has its roots in the Non-violence and Just Peace Conference, hosted by the Vatican in April 2016, which included delegates from the world’s conflict zones – and resulted in ‘an appeal to the Catholic church to re-commit to the centrality of Gospel non-violence’. Henrietta shared some of the scriptural passages that inspired this call, notably from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew ch.5. The conference also called for an end to the doctrine of Just War, and its replacement with Just Peace.”

(‘Just.’ The meaning? Just as in ‘only’? Just as in ‘right and fair and reasonable’? ZR)

“Henrietta then gave some examples of non-violence in action, claiming that civilian campaigns are ten times more likely to succeed than military ones, by involving the participation of everyone. If civilians withdraw their consent and cooperation, a system will collapse. Satire and humour are also very effective, despots being notoriously thin-skinned. For example, a citizen’s arrest of a Saudi general shocked and humiliated him.”

(Is shock and humiliation the way? I mean… If we’re talking about Catholics, just what would Jesus do? Is this the way of loving your fellow human? ZR)

“Violence is not always physical: dismissing or ignoring someone, or bullying in schools, workplaces or on social media is also doing violence to another person.

“Henrietta has been twice to Afghanistan and cited the Afghan Peace Volunteers, who work non-violently with their local community in a country that has been at war for thirty years.

“Alternatives to Violence work with prisoners to end the cycle of violence.

“Non-violence is not an easy option: to commit to non-violence may mean being prepared to lose one’s life.”

(Take no other human’s enemy as your own enemy. Don’t allow anyone else to tell you that someone is your enemy. To point at some other ‘group of people’ and tell you that they are ‘not like you’, but are ‘The Enemy’. Resist! Resist being drawn into the agendas of other people and resist playing a role in their seriously life threatening games. ZR)

Posted 18:02 Wednesday, Nov 15, 2017 In: The HOT Planet

1 Comment


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  1. Patrick Burton

    The problem with pacificism is what do you do in a situation of pure violence; how to oppose it peacefully. Two examples. The response to Nazism, (where in my case part of my family would have been murdered on racial grounds and the others on political grounds).The Peace Pledge Union was still calling for negotiation as the Germans were invading Poland. Bonhoffer only latterly agreed to the attempt to kill Hitler or any violent solution.

    The other is the Soviet Union where pacifists arrested by Stalin went on hunger strike in the Gulag and, without publicity, starved. Pacifism seems to only work where you have an aware and partly sympathetic home population (eg India with Gandhi), and means of communicating your passive resistence.

    If the Taliban retake Kabul, I woud think they would immediately execute any opponents as they did before. The pacifist foreigners, however well meaning, would have left by then!

    Most people oppose war in theory. It is seldom the best option. But sometimes it seems to be the only option.however terrible

    Comment by Patrick Burton — Friday, Nov 17, 2017 @ 13:29

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