The dichotomy of violence/nonviolence has existed for millenniums. The repercussions are noticeable. In the Bible, King David wanted to build a house for God but David heard God say, “You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on the earth.” (1 Chronicles 22:8, English Standard Version) So David’s son, Solomon, a much less violent leader, went on to build the house.
King Solomon’s reign was more peaceful then his father’s. However, there is no record that the peace came from background checks or by banning certain weaponry. And, I doubt the nation buried all the weapons with King David after he died. But I do think a shift in consciousness was happening. Instead of the right to bear arms, are the people exercising their right to peace, or the wisdom that stops a violent thought before it becomes an action?
A historical perspective sees that generations of people prior to Solomon heeded the advice “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.” (Genesis 9:6) However, generations of people after King Solomon began adapting the concept, “Love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you.” (Matthew 5:44)
The “love your enemy” tactic is only successful when it is accompanied by other biblical readings such as, “All who are wicked will be punished with trouble and suffering.” (Romans 2:9, Contemporary English Version) Basically, the world consciousness is designed to love and pray for, or try to help, violent people only when it is pro-actively destroying the violent thinking and behavior.
The horribleness in the world triggers the goodness to stand firmer. We make rules, we follow rituals. But while rules and rituals may temporarily remove the angst of violence, they can’t be used as a substitute for the need to stand continually for peace, wisdom and the courage to stop all forms of violent thinking before it takes control. As difficult as it is to accept, living in love is a better goal than living in fear.
Cheryl Petersen writes on Christian Science. She lives in Delhi.