As I was considering the protests in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a quotation from Martin Luther King Jr. came to mind. Understanding that violence results only in more violence, he wisely explained: “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”
Such nonviolence is not passive nor submissive, nor does it ignore or condone wrong. It is an active force for good – a living prayer – that invokes the power of God, good, to help and heal. Christ Jesus proved that. And the way to our freedom from violence either as a victim or a perpetrator can be found in Jesus’ example.
Jesus lived among those with unbridled ambition and suffered the vengeful plotting and hateful taunting of those who sought to kill him and destroy his influence. He was “in all points tempted like as we are,” but because he lived in obedience to God, Jesus himself was “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
The requirements for our conduct, even beyond what we may think is reasonable or just, are ultimately derived from God. Jesus explained that God requires us to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Such loving is essential in order to diminish conflict wherever it is found and replace it with peace. I saw this when I was a child.
A neighbor informed us that during the night a cross had been burned on the lawn of a house where a black family had moved into our neighborhood a day or two earlier. Although I was very young and didn’t understand all that it meant, I felt the weight of such hate lift by watching my dad. He immediately went to the new neighbors’ house and welcomed them to the neighborhood. While I don’t know what that family did next, my dad’s example reminds me of the imperative to always stand on the side of that which is right and good.
God’s power is on the side of good. So I’ve felt impelled, with active protests of prayer, to reject violence as effective, desirable, necessary, or inevitable by knowing that good alone is power.
Prayer can replace the mortal view with the spiritual reality. I’ve found it effective to identify the spiritual nature of each of us as God’s expressed image and consequently not susceptible to provocation or sin. Prayer can affirm the power of God as impartial, universal, divine Love, and acknowledge the presence of Love as the cause or Principle of existence. It can recognize the might of intelligent Mind to help and heal – to comfort, guard, and guide. Such prayers invoke the laws of God used by Jesus, and heal disease and sin, and help bring about the end of conflict.
All who take this side in their daily thinking and actions will benefit themselves and others by contributing to lessening violence and beginning to transform society through a broader brotherhood expressed in love, patience, cooperation, and peace.
Speaking of such, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and also founded The Christian Science Monitor, said, “Each day I pray for the pacification of all national difficulties, for the brotherhood of man.... I also have faith that my prayer availeth, and that He who is overturning will overturn until He whose right it is shall reign. Each day I pray: ‘God bless my enemies; make them Thy friends; give them to know the joy and the peace of love’ ” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 220).