November was a bad month, and December is not shaping up much better. In the last 6 weeks ISIS massacred civillians in Paris, and Jihadis also killed innocent people in Beirut, Kenya and Israel. In Israel random attacks on Jews are now a daily ocurrence and are becoming part of the daily run of life, while many Palestinian Arabs celebrate the deaths and hand out candy. A Saudi Arabia led coalition massively bombed Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, a city where it is estimated 10 children die from warfare every day. In the United States racist gunmen opened fire at a Black Lives Matter rally, killing 5. Another gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic, killing 3. In Texas one man shot a waitress for not letting him smoke inside, and another shot someone for parking on the street in front of his house. On Dec 2, hours before I wrote this, 3 gunmen opened fire in, of all places, a clinic for people with developmental disabilities, killing 14. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg- a more thorough, more global search of the news would reveal more of the same.
All of these horrors have one thing in common: violence. We are living in violent days: days of rage. This violence is not limited to the physical. Anyone who spends time on the Internet soon becomes amazed by the fountains of vitriol, self-righteousness, hatred, aggression, insult and hostile caricature which are constantly being produced. This is not limited to the dreaded “comment area” on websites but is promulgated by many news and opinion sites on every side of every issue. Donald Trump mocks a disabled reporter and defends supporters who beat up african americans and homeless people. A popular leftwing website runs the headline “Ted Cruz, You Lying Sack of Shit.” Canadian newspaper comment sections are so inundated with racism against aboriginals that a leading First Nations academic calls for making comment sections anonymous no longer. A firefighter called to the scene of a burning Mosque is heard to say “Let it burn” over his truck radio. A “peacemaker” in Israel writes publicaly that she hopes two Israelis found guilty of killing an Arab teenager “rot in jail forever”. Violent speech is also endemic, and is not unrelated to the physical violence raging throughout the world, which in some cases is egged on and incited by online (and offline) aggression, caricaturing, and hatred.
In this atmosphere it is imperative that people of faith not contribute to the fires of rage. It has become more important than ever to be committed to nonviolence in thought, word and deed. This three part nonviolence does not carry any exceptions. It does not exclude whoever you think is really deserving of violence- it does not exclude Israelis or Palestinians. It does not exclude Republicans, Fundamentalist Christians or Fundamentalist Muslims. It does not exclude the Police, or Men, or Women. It does not exclude Abortion providers or Pro-Lifers. It does not exclude Racists or Jihadis, or Domestic Terrorists. It does not exclude people who stay stupid or offensive things. The only way to turn the tide of rage and righteousness which is poisoning the public atmosphere and spilling out in acts of anger and horror is to commit to absolute nonviolence in the way we write, speak, and act, as well as to withdraw support for any acts of violence against people, animals or nature. This applies to the way we treat our families and our colleagues. The way we drive a car. Our casual comments and our official statements. Our online comments and our Facebook postings. The world is on fire and every bit of water helps.