Monday, January 15, 2007

Non-Violent Resistance: A Few Theological Reflections

On MLK day, a few draft paragraphs from a book I am writing that's currently on the "back burner":


When you turn to beat someone, you figure he or she will fight back or run, not purposely stand there and take it. When you humiliate them, they should spit back or at least offer rebuttal and defense. If instead they hold steady and resolutely bear your attack, you have completely lost the upper hand. If you continue your assault, any righteous veneer to your aggression will quickly shade to abuse. By turns, you will find yourself a brat, a bully, and a brute. In the end, you will make yourself into a sadist who cannot bear to look in the mirror. Your victim’s servanthood has triumphed. The victory will be hollow, however, for the real goal of servanthood is to change people’s hearts, not to “heap burning coals on their heads” (Rom 12:20).

Genuine servanthood strives not to quash enemies but to turn them into friends, to transform their very natures. Presenting no resistance to violence, it deprives the enemy of its disposition to be hostile. Exposing a soft underbelly, it shows the enemy that it can let go of its fear. By meeting violent malice with the mystery of nonviolent, suffering love, it offers the enemy something much more valuable than victory by force. To receive the freely offered security and worth of true friendship is a priceless gift, which one need not hoard in fear.

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