"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Stations of the Cross: Sixth Station

"Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged."

"As we recall Jesus standing before Pilate, who represents the Occupying Roman Forces, and the full weight of the Roman Empire, let us meditate on a scene happening in Hebron. Six Palestinian youths, between the ages of fifteen and nineteen, stand before the Israeli military, accused by a settler woman of breaking and entering her home."

When the Israelis move to demolish homes, what is the response of Palestinians? One of them, Jaber, struggling to build a clinic that is now scheduled for demolition, said: "We want the world to know that with our new clinic that has the demolition order, if there was an automobile accident on the Bypass Route 60, and Israelis were injured and could not get to a hospital, we would give them medical treatment right here in this Palestinian clinic. Tell the world." Israeli authorities demolished Jaber’s home in the Beqa’a Valley three times.

The problem is to find a response to Israeli violence that does not perpetuate injustice, a creative resistance that does not add more fuel to the flames, a patient endurance that draws the sting of evil, a total abandonment of revenge that leaves evil empty, unable to find a target and thus starved of the food of hatred. By refusing to join in the enemies' hatred and contempt for human life, we make the enemy visible to himself and to others. Creative non-violence is a mirror in which our sinfulness and that of our "enemy" can come to the surface. Rather than surrendering to the trance of revenge and counter-revenge, we awaken and raise our eyes from the deadly gleams flashing from the myth of redemptive violence. When it is met creatively, without the automatic counter-response to which we are daily conditioned, violence exposes its true nature even to the blindest eye - that of its perpetrator. Violence condemns itself when it fails to evoke counter-violence.

When we renounce the ego and its demand for revenge, we embrace the freedom of Jesus Christ. That is why Gandhi never aimed at non-violence in and of itself, but at Truth in and for itself. When our eyes are turned away from each other and toward the one who is Truth, then the Holy Spirit can find a chink in our hearts and come rushing in.

Creative non-violence does not justify the aggressor and it does not concede rights to unjust aggression. It is not a "balanced" approach, where the supposed "rights" of both sides are recognized in the manner of the corporate media which attempts to smother the rights of the Palestinians beneath a false "complexity." Patient endurance of Israeli insult does not concede its unjust authority. Where counter-violence attempts to say, "You cannot conquer me - part of me is free from you and triumphs over you!", non-violence says, "We are both free from the dominion of hatred - it's reign has ended in our hearts!"

Far from justifying evil, creative non-violence exposes the depth of evil so that it can be washed away. Evil has no rights, but it can only be slain in our own hearts. The Christian, more than anyone, recognizes the true nature of evil and never concedes it any rights and hunts it out wherever it is whitewashed. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "The disciple must realize this, and bear witness to it as Jesus did, just because this is the only way evil can be overcome. The very fact that the evil which assaults him is unjustifiable makes it imperative that he should not resist it, but play it out and overcome it by patiently enduring the evil person. Suffering willingly endured is stronger than evil, it spells death to evil." - The Cost of Discipleship.

"The worse the evil, the readier must the Christian be to suffer." By doing this, we place the evil one in the hands of Jesus. "And the cross is the only justification for the precept of non-violence, for it alone can kindle a faith in the victory over evil which will enable men to obey that precept. And only such obedience is blessed with the promise that we shall be partakers of Christ's victory as well as of his sufferings." - The Cost of Discipleship.

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