Sunday, January 25, 2009

Non-Violence for all, from now until forever. Is it possible?

“People try nonviolence for a week, and when it ‘doesn’t work,’ they go back to violence, which hasn’t worked for centuries.”

—Theodore Roszak

The quote listed above is starkly tragic. Tragic in its truth.

Our mimetic desire - our rivalry - or desire for more and more and more and that which the other possesses ultimately dispossesses us of our own lives and our own peace.

Violence comes so naturally to us. But, it so naturally consumes us, as well.

Early in the narrative of stories in the Bible, Cain acts in violence to dispossess Abel. When I teach from the text (in Genesis 4), I express to my students that at some level this is the “first story” of “life in the real world.” Whatever or wherever “Eden” “was” in Genesis 1-3, it is presented as a protected place. In the first story of life separated from Eden, Cain’s destruction of his brother – fratricide – demonstrates that the earliest persons in this tradition – the earliest humans in the “real world” of life – choose violence.

The Biblical story and the history of persons spread across the globe narrate again and again and again how one person or one people group or one nation violently dispossess another person, people, or nation – and violence continually tears at the seams of human history.

Could we give nonviolence a chance, for a century? What would it take to narrate it to persons in our world? Can we educate toward nonviolence? Can we enculturate toward nonviolence? Can we empower and enliven peace?

Seeking to find that way towards eupan.

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

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