The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This moment calls for radical, godly, costly, creative response; not simply a re-run of what we have always done before. Some point to Martin Luther King’s quotes like this one and say, “well, look where it got him, if he hadn’t been a pacifist he would have lived a lot longer!” Well, I don’t know about that. But I do know that he won his fight. He goes down as one of the heroes of humanity, who by his moral authority led a movement that brought freedom, justice and the start of a long healing. He showed us that evil cannot destroy evil, even if it feels like justice in the moment; he showed that temporary feeling of vengeance to be a poor imitation of the justice we all long for. He showed there is another longer, steeper way that will most likely cost you your life but it does deliver.
More than anything, these past few weeks have shown us that there is an evil in our world capable of things beyond the scope of mere human selfishness and abuse of others. Rewards and punishment can modify human behaviour be that of an individual, a nation or our one global community. Evil doesn’t work that way. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, therefore our warfare must be appropriate to the task. When evil is at play, the church needs to pray and silence the storm as St Patrick did in his day. Make no mistake, its only prayer trusting in Jesus that can do this. Anyone can fight, anyone can heal, anyone can negotiate, anyone can comfort, anyone can search and rescue, anyone can provide shelter, food and sanitation; and everyone must! But it’s only calling on the name of Jesus that can stem the tide of evil, and so as well as everything else,- we must. This is our calling, the blessing we can bring.