Violence is of Concern for All. Everybody views it Askance. From their upbringing, I know that many Christians have questions about it. Many people make a Blanket statement that Violence is Wrong. But it is Only a Method. An Instrument, like a knife. A Surgeon uses it and We call it a Scalpel, and We find nothing wrong in it, though, Strictly speaking, Violence has been performed. But that same Scalpel can be used by the ungodly to take out Your eye, or in Intimidation and Torture. And here We call it Wrong, which it Is, of course. So Violence should Not be the Question. How it Used should be the one.
More Commonly, and more Simply, Violence has two elements: Offence, and Defence. Most of us forget this, which is why there is so much confusion. Many Christians (among others) Freeze at the word Violence.
Violence is to be Strongly Deplored, and its use in Aggression, Attack and Offence is Never Right.
On the other hand, the use of Force, even Armed Force – which is Nothing else but Violence – is Allowed in Defence. Violence is Not the Issue, but Aggression is. That is the essence of this article.
I am Not saying that We Stock up on guns. Nor am I saying that You take up arms against Your government. Interestingly, the BEST way of protesting against one’s own government is through Absolutely Non-Violent and Peaceful means.
Let us consider:
- A person gone berserk and holding school children as hostage,
- An attack by Red Indians on a small household in the days of the Old West,
- An unknown aircraft refusing to respond even to visual signals and entering restricted air space,
- saddam hussein when he was bombing his own countrymen,
- his attack onto Kuwait,
- pakistan’s frequent shelling across the border into India…
Would any of these have put down their guns if a White Flag was showed to them?
This post is further presented to You under the following Headings:
What is Violence?
The Most Common Thoughts on Violence.
Instances of Violence in the Bible.
Right and Wrong, with reference to Violence.
The Case of War.
Offence as the Best Defence.
A. What is Violence?
Violence is Not just an Act, an Action. A threat of Aggression is Violence too.
The mere presence of police force armed with semi-automatic weapons and APC-like vehicles where Unarmed Civilians are gathered is Violence. This is Aggression.
Too many Girls run away from their homes in India. They reach cities hoping for opportunities on the silver screen. Many times they find themselves on the railway platforms or on streets, not knowing where to go. That is when ‘uncle figures’ turn up, and with kind voices, sweet talk and promises of help, take them to the red light areas (houses of prostitution). There, the mere presence of the rowdy elements, or, if that fails, beatings or burning with lighted cigarettes, etc, breaks their spirit. After that, The Threat of Violent consequences keeps them in their place, and they do not even dare to go to the police or such.
Putting a person in Jail is Violence. So is shooting a Mad Dog.
Frequently, You will see that My Kind of Writing is Violent, Haha! Well, when I see Ecology and Mother Earth getting Raped, when I see Our Tax money disappearing into a few pockets – so much so that maybe a Quarter of the World does not get a Square meal, when Quadrillions are taken in loan – to be paid back by the Future generations, when Rivers are diverted to make Soft drinks at the cost of Drinking Water and Irrigation, anybody who thinks I would be keeping an even 22 degrees centigrade of temperature like an air conditioner has another think coming!
Thus We will see that Violence is Not the culprit, but Aggression Is. Armed Aggression is to be Deplored, whereas Armed Defence is OK.
B. The Most Common Thoughts on Violence.
As soon as a Christian hears the word ‘Violence,’ the following sorts of thoughts fill his head.
Christ Allowed Himself to be arrested, man-handled and much worse, to the point of Crucifixion. He did not even Resist it, as He could have done in the earlier instance of Disappearing from the midst of those who wanted to push Him down a cliff, (Luke 4:29-30).
When Peter had hit the high priest’s slave, cutting off his ear, Jesus had said to him: “Put Your Sword Back in its place. All who take the Sword will Die by the Sword.” (Matthew 26:52).
We have heard that the Lord has said: “Vengeance is Mine.” (Deuteronomy 32:35). That means that HE would Avenge, and that We are Not supposed to that.
C. Instances of Violence in the Bible.
Let us come to the Other side of things. Just moving along through the Bible, We have that Phinehas drove his Spear through both the man and woman as they were having Sex. Before anybody goes off in a huff, here is the reference. It would be too long to quote it. Numbers 25:1-9. Reading this, it would be good to remember that Catholics, of whom I am one, see to the Deeper meaning of things, what is called ‘Sensus Plenior.’ Phinehas was not punished. He was The Lord’s Punisher in this case.
Let us now come to The Time when the Hebrews returned to their Homeland. They had dwelt there after the time of Moses, circa 1250 BC, to the Fall of Jerusalem, circa 587 BC. That makes it about 700 years. From about 587 BC to about 445 BC, they had been Slaves By the Rivers of Babylon, first to the Assyrians, then to the Neo-Babylonians, and at the end to the Persians. It was Cyrus of Persia who gave them permission to return. Prior to all this, they had been slaves in Egypt for four hundred off years. Altogether, they had been Slaves, since the time of Abraham, to the time of Christ, for Centuries. No Wonder they hated the Idea of Slavery, and that they still do! These details are just by way of Background and Interest.
Safety, in those days, meant living within Walls. The crops were raised outside the Walls, and if attacked, they lost, at the most, the Crops. So, upon the return from slavery, building the Walls of Jerusalem was one of their priorities. And Naturally their ‘neighbours’ did not want those walls raised. The Hebrews would build, and their enemies would pull them down. What were they to do? Build or Fight?
What is More Important is What they were Inspired to do. Nehemiah, whom We can call the leader of the Hebrews at that point, writes: “Our enemies thought (of) Killing Us and Putting an End to our Work. …So I armed the People with Swords, Spears and Bows… Even those who carried building materials worked with one hand and kept a Weapon in the other.” (Excerpts from Nehemiah 4:11-17). You know, they were not there at some Fancy Dress Contest. Those Weapons, were to be Used, if Necessary. Image: www.artbible.net
THE ABOVE IS ONE OF THE CLEAREST EXAMPLES THAT EVEN ARMED SELF DEFENCE IS ALLOWED IN THE BIBLE.
There are two very Strong examples of Corrective Punishment in the Book. A Leader is Responsible for the Well Being of his People, for Justice, and the Upkeep of Values, etc. To Keep these Up, both Peter and Paul Uttered, and people Suffered, even Died. Acts 5:1-11, and 13:9-12.
D. Right and Wrong, with reference to Violence.
So Finally, What is one supposed to Do, and Not to Do? In other words, What is Right and What is Wrong, with reference to Violence?
If I am Insulted and Even Physically harmed, I am Not supposed to Retaliate. I am Not to keep going Tit for Tat, as they were doing during the time of Romeo and Juliet. In these things, I Keep my Peace.
But, if Loss of Property is involved, I Defend myself. This might sound Very Mundane, Gross, Untrusting.
Let us take a case. Supposing somebody enters Your house and, at Knife point (they use more of knives in India!) demands that You give him what little jewels and cash You have. What would You do? Give him Your cash and jewels hoping that he would go away? Next, supposing You have given him that, and he tells Your wife to disrobe and get down on the floor, What would You do? Crude and Gross of me? Do Excuse me. These things happen. Most of the time they tie up the man and do things right in front of him and the children. Anyway, What would You do?
So, in the case of Property, Life and Limb, and in cases of Outrage of Modesty or Worse, We see that We do Defend Ourselves and Ours, Tooth and Nail.
The Main question should be: Is Resistance Allowed? What kind, and to What Extent? Ineffective and Amateurish handling of a situation will only end in a Worse Scenario. If somebody wants to try Gandhian tactics, When the Safety, Life, etc, of One’s Wife and Children is involved, how can I stop him? An Armed and Unwanted person in the house or the street can be stopped Only by a Hit on the head or something, if that were possible.
Interestingly, I have read that Gandhi had said that the attacker was NOT to be resisted, even by crossing one’s hands on one’s head, etc. His followers were supposed to receive the blows without offering any resistance. And many had done that, and got their skulls broken open, and got hit between the legs. History cleverly hides the details of the aftermath of the many such attacks. And, People like him tend to forget, or conveniently forget, that they are extremely public figures, and even the most foolish policeman would not crack their skulls open, or hit them on the crotch. So, since it does not happen to them, they think it will not happen to others, OR, they do not know the shocking pain, the disabilities, and the consequent loss to the person’s family. I mean, that person ceases, to all practical purposes, to be any kind of provider or contributor to his family. On the contrary, he has to be provided for. So, people who keep shouting ‘Non-Violence, Non-Violence, Non-Violence,’ of this Gandhian type, are Inexperienced bunglers.
With regard to the Gandhian scenario, I would have said that We at least protect our Heads with our hands. Better broken hands than a Head Injury.
Coming back to my earlier point, I say that One Has to put an Attacker Out of Commission. Whether the Attack is on one’s Person, the Family or a Nation, the Attacker has to be Unarmed and Disabled. Whether the Ladies use a little Pepper Spray, or one uses a stick or a gun, We see that this involves Violence. Even in Jiu-Jitsu, the so-called Gentle art of self defence, after the person is thrown (gentle!), he is ‘Held’ in such a way that movement would cause him serious injury indeed. It is that fear that keeps the defeated assailant at bay.
No, I do not agree with Killing the person. Most of the time that should not be Necessary.
Yes, Paul had said, in effect: “…Let Yourselves be Wronged, …Let Yourselves be Cheated.” (1 Corinthians 6:7, JB). But in the end these words are Hyperbolic, challenging Us to heights, telling Us NOT to get into Unnecessary and Mundane fights.
The Early Christians sold their All, and brought it to the Community. But they saw that it was Not practical. It is Not continued now. So We should not go by Hyperbola. Nor their Over-Enthusiastic Interpretations.
Even during the time of Christ there were Soldiers. They were Not told to give up the Army. All John the Baptist told them was: “Don’t take money from anyone by force or accuse anyone falsely. Be Content with Your Pay.” Luke 3:14, TEV.
It is Not the weapons, the Swords or the Guns. It is the Black Heart of man, the greedy Arms Manufacturers, the bad generals and the worse politicos.
Violence and Crime might not be touching Your individual lives. So Rejoice! May it Ever be So. But if it does enter Your Individual life, Learn to Deal with it Effectively. It would not be a Boxing Match. It would be a matter of Rape or Your Throat getting Cut. Do Not Shadow Box. It is Not too difficult to learn Self Defence techniques. Ladies Should Carry Chilli or Pepper Powder, and more that, learn to Use it, and Be Ready to do so.
It becomes a question of giving the evil minded a little Thrashing, or handing over Your Hard Earned money to ruffians and see Your Family Suffer. It could also be a case of coming away with a Child in the Womb. Society would say, “You were Violent.” The church would say, “No Abortion.” And I Agree with it too.
G. The Case of War.
Most of the time, in War or Armed Insurgency, One is the Aggressor, and the Other is the Victim. During Biblical times, both Egypt and Assyria/Babylonia, both super powers of that age, had clashed with each other. In Modern Times, the Threat or Violent Retaliation keeps adventurism in check. Yet people try, as putin is doing it in Ukraine.
When many people write against Violence, they speak against war. But War is a Two sided thing. If a country attacked or encroached, and no resistance was offered, there was No War at all! It is only aggression, attack or encroachment. It becomes war Only when one fights back. And Alas, One has to!
If all people were the same, if the next ruler was similar to the next one, the Citizenry would not mind. But if adolf hitler had succeeded in his conquests, what would have been the count of the dead? If putin were such a good ruler, Why are the People of Ukraine resisting him? I know that plenty of people criticize the West. But if that is such a bad country, just Why is there No Mass Exodus to putin’s russia?
When saddam was bombing the Kurds, what was the world to do? And today, when the ISIS is trying to take hold of Syria, (though the world is tired of that news), what are we to do? Say the Syrians, “What is the big deal? Let them rule You?”
If putin has not taken hold of Ukraine, it is because he faces the threat of retaliation. People are always going to be different. There will be mad dogs like hitler, saddam, pol pot, putin and the ISIS. And just like mad dogs, they will not desist until they are put down. And that is called War.
H. Offence as the Best Defence.
First of all, if You find a man forcing himself upon a woman, for instance, he is not going to give up because of words, threats or posturing. You have to take him down. And If You are going to do that, the world would say, “You should not take the Initiative in Violence.” Stupid world. It was like that in the Old West, was it not? The Law man had to draw after the crook. Otherwise it was called ‘Gunning a man down.’ Yes, the Lives of Our Law men have been So Cheap. For us.
It is like that in India. People keep dogs. These come out onto the streets and growl and bark at You. You are not even supposed to throw a stone at them! (Useless kicking them, as too many of us wear rubber slippers). If the dog bites You, the owners would be Deep inside their houses, hidden from You.
Make Sure Your Heart is Pure. That You do not Harbour Hatred and Rancour. Do Not take Personal revenge. But if You find Injustice or Aggression, Be Ready to Kick the Backsides. Hard. It is OK to do that.