What Happens When Swords Become Plowshares…

Posted: 05/18/2010 in Philosophy
Tags: , , , , , ,

I read an article today that spoke of the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance campaigns compared to violent resistance campaigns. In this article, they charted the effectiveness of major political upheavals in resistance campaigns in countries all throughout the world. They noted that 53% of all nonviolent campaigns were successful in accomplishing goals, while only 26% of all violent campaigns were successful. This means that, historically, nonviolence has been nearly twice as effective as violence.

I have heard a plethora of arguments negating nonviolent resistance as passive, ineffective, and in some cases even wrong because of these presumptions. Even in Christian circles, I’ve heard severe criticism of resolution methods in areas of oppression that do not involve violence in some capacity.

I find this article extremely interesting because even if you take morality or theological issues out of the concept and practice of war, we find that the most effective solutions which create the greatest change happen without sword, bullet or bomb.

So, knowing this, why is it that as a human race we consistently fall on the side of the fence thinking that violence works??? We see the deaths, we see the ineffectiveness, we see the vast destructive aftermath of plummeting economies and lost generations. However, it’s so hard for even our Christian brothers and sisters to grasp the concept that maybe Jesus meant it when he said that “the meek will inherit the earth” (Mat. 5:5).

However, I think it should also be important to note that neither statistic on the effectiveness of resistance campaigns mentioned above is all too impressive. Trying something that only works a little over 1/2 of the time is a difficult risk in itself. So maybe when looking at the issue of war or violence, effectiveness is not a good speaking ground for either argument.

So I love the way that Stanley Hauerwas puts it in his book, Resident Aliens, when he says that we live our lives like Christ not because his ways are effective in this world. Although it is more successful than violence, it’s really not all that effective. And Jesus calls his followers to be like him not because it’s efficient (I mean, he did die on a cross at the hands of his enemies… not the most efficient way to overcome the world.), but he calls us to this alternative lifestyle because that’s how He is. It’s how HIS kingdom works.

I don’t kill my enemies simply because Christ tells me to love them, and I don’t see killing and loving as being synonymous. Since I choose the path of nonviolent resistance, could it mean then that I would give up some liberties at some point? Yes. Could it mean that I or ones that I love might suffer even to the point of death at the hands of those I actively oppose? Absolutely.

But my treasure is in heaven, my life is eternal, and my God is love (1 John 4:8).

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