Sunday, March 05, 2006
Cycles of Violence
Well, here I am at a new weekend right before my school takes a small break to let students catch up on some reading, and I find myself immersed in a particularly difficult text from I Peter. The basic problem with this text is that one can easily read it as a text saying that one should just quietly endure in her or his suffering because the present life does not matter. Truthfully, that's not a reading I can in good conscience relate to other people. Besides, it seems so contrary to the life Jesus lead and strove for in his ministry, death, and resurrection. All throughout the gospels, we hear time after time stories about how Jesus was either challenging established conceptions of how to act, confronting social structures, healing the sick, or feeding hungry people. That is most certainly NOT a philosophy of inaction. So what are we to do with I Peter and it seeming language of silent suffering? Well, yes it is about suffering. It is about a very real reality that all of us face at one time or another within the world. But, it is not just pointing out an obvious fact of life. It says that the only way one can end suffering, violence, and abuse is to break the cycle of retribution with a radical love and care for other people and breaking down the situations that enable suffering, violence, and abuse to be carried out. So, wives shouldn't just sit quietly as their husbands physically and mentally abuse them, but neither should they return in kind the suffering, violence, and abuse directed at them. They should instead remove themselves from the situation and put into action a sequence of events that either leads to incarceration or treatment for the abuser - a kind of love heals both parties involved. But, as per Jesus' teachings, we should leave it up to the abused to be the sole one responsible for ending the cycle of violence. Indifference and inaction of people on the outside are just as culpable as people personally involved in the suffering, violence, and abuse. We need to be just as active if not more active in finding ways to end cycles of suffering, violence, and abuse we see all around us in the world.