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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Law of ( Peaceful ) Resistance


Although this statement, by all accounts, was written during a time of war & great upheaval, it must not necessarily mean active rebellion or violent opposition. Peaceful resistance, although not natural to humanity, has been practiced over the millennia by a select few people, including Jesus & Gandhi. It is hard to say, sometimes, that it is wrong to execute those who persevere in wrong-doing, returning evil for evil upon their heads, but these two men, among others, showed that it is possible to bring positive change without returning blood-shed for blood-shed, 'an eye for an eye', so to speak!

Maybe Jesus showed it best when He prayed, 'Father forgive them, for they know not what they do'. According to Scripture, He spoke these words as He gave up His life on the cross. Before His final unselfish act, the life of Jesus had been a sacrificial one as well, resisting the injustice that was happening all around Him, even though He knew it would mean His own persecution; eventually, it led to His death. Gandhi too, though some may disagree, led a life of peaceful resistance. At first, he sought justice through the Law, but when the Law proved unjust, he relied on unlawful, though peaceful & just means.

'It is the duty of all good men ( people ) to resist injustice'! Whether through peaceful or violent resistance, one that truly believes that some things are right & others are wrong must resist, either passively or actively, that which is wrong, while practicing that which is right. Sometimes it seems that the only way to answer violence is with more violence, fighting fire with fire, in other words ( it often seems that's the only language some people understand ), but though it means sacrifice of whatever sort, even to the point of death, non-violent opposition proves, in the long run, to be the best!

'How can we change things unless we get rid of the opposition?', one might ask: that's a good question! When we look at 'the opposition' from a personal standpoint, like 'the personification of evil', for instance, we tend to think that if we remove that person from the picture, we can get rid of 'the opposition'. The problem is, from that action, whether one wants to call it murder or execution, is engendered only more personal opposition. In place of the one just removed from the equation pop up, like weeds ( usually family or loved ones ), more opposition. No, the only real way to 'get rid of the opposition' is to change the heart of the opposing one. History has shown that this cannot be done by violence, though, for a time, mostly through fear, a peace of sorts may transpire through violent means.

War often has been the answer of 'good men' to The Problem of Evil! The peace that these wars has brought has been a troublesome one at best. Through fear of reprisal ( law ), a peace of sorts settles in for a time, though there is always an element of resistance. Violence seems to be the readiest answer when it comes to the question of resisting injustice, especially if the injustice itself is backed by violence, but as numerous peaceful resistors have shown, it is bettered by a peaceful opposition. Hatred only engender more hatred; murder only begets murder, but if, rather than returning evil for evil, one person decides not to fight fire with fire & chooses instead the more difficult path, that of forgiveness, then that one may effect a wondrous change in his or her opponent!

Sacrifice, particularly in this modern age of selfish ambition, does not come easily to most, in fact, one might be hard-pressed to find a good example in the daily news! However, there are those out there & the numbers seem to be on the rise, that have taken the high road & though almost grudgingly sometimes, are willing to lay down their lives, if necessary, that others might live, or at least have a better life. The cases may be far & few between at the moment, but some people, it would seem, have noted well where a life of violence leads & how non-violent resistance can stymie the opposition far better than violence opposition ever could!

Though peaceful resistance may mean the loss of life of the one who opposes violence thusly, it will have a far better effect in the long run. For one thing, when violence is faced with more violence, only more violence results; for another, the human psyche being what it is, when violence is brought to bear, the user tends to get even more violent! If, however, the one opposed by violence, though resisting injustice, chooses the way of peace, rather than war, by sacrificing their own life that others might live, the buck stops with them; they have championed the right, good & just: their sacrifice will not be forgotten!

A wise man ( no, NOT Gandhi ) once said, 'An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind'. There is a kind of wisdom that would say that one who lost his or her eye would be more than justified in taking the others eye, metaphorically speaking of course, but is it right? The concept of forgiveness seems to be foreign to many people, especially those in authority, in this day & age, though forgiveness would go a long way in ending much of the unnecessary suffering in this world. Unfortunately, for all too many people, fighting fire with fire, or violent opposition, seems to be the only answer when we are faced with violence. Though non-violent, or peaceful resistance is slowly gaining a foothold, it will be some time before the world, with its History of Violence, begins to feel the healing effect of peaceful resistance!

To this end,
Charles Haddon Shank

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