Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Violence is Easy. Peace is Hard.



"I will offer you a simple litmus test to determine whether a person has healthy or unhealthy religion. What do they do with their pain-even their daily little disappointments? Do they transform their pain or do they transmit it? People who are practiced in transforming actual life pain, like Jesus on the cross, are the only spiritual authorities worth following. They know. They can lead and teach. The rest of us just talk." ~Richard Rohr, OFM


In our neighborhood this month, a local man named Steven Mallory unprovokedly assaulted a volunteer at the free meal site for the poor. After fleeing the scene, minutes later, he brutally attacked the police officer who stopped him for questioning. In self defense, the policeman had to shoot, and he killed Steven. Our "inner city" neighborhood, although not a stranger to crime, was shaken to the core. So much violence! A life ended, others severely damaged--all within minutes [for the complete story and video: Violent End to a Violent Life: Our Neighborhood Nightmare].


From the moment I heard there would be a prayer service in response to that horrid sequence of events, I knew I would attend. The service was last week.


The short, simple event attempted to respond peacefully to that violence. People who knew or were related to the perpetrator, people who serve in the neighborhood, neighbors--we all gathered in the site that provides free meals. We sang, reflected, and shared. We stood and extended our hands, symbolically calling down a blessing of peace on the area--in each of the four directions.


Unquestioningly, the testimony of the volunteer, Rylan Bebermeyer, who had been assaulted at that very room, moved me deeply. His lip was split in the unprovoked punch, an attack he did not even see coming, an attack that required 15 stitches to fix. As a neighbor to the Café myself, seeing his bloody gurney going into the ambulance had been my first indication of the trouble that day. He had looked like a character from the movie Rocky--and he even almost chuckled as he recalled that fact himself to the group.


Rylan also recalled that he had prayed early that morning that he would be open to whatever the day would bring to him. As he spoke of the incident his face mirrored deep peace. He expressed no anger--only gratitude: "I never once had a feeling of anger toward Steve. What good would have anger done?"


Instead Rylan remembered gratefully the many people who assisted him--including even the woman upon whom he fell: "...right over there [pointing]. I fell on her. She kept me from hitting the corner on my way down."


Nonviolence is not "goody two-shoes," otherworldly, nor something vapid or "feel good." The person who can integrate undeserved pain deliberately inflicted on him is not taking the easy way out. Our neighborhood is healing. Violence is easy. Peace is hard.

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Thanks to the blog "St. Anne, Pray for Us" for bringing the quotation from Rohr to my attention.

18 comments:

Dusty said...

As I said on Sirens..nonviolence is the hardest thing for me..and I fail more than I succeed.

Good post Billie. ;)

Jan said...

Thank you. I'll be back tomorrow to re-read and ponder more.

Plus, your technology amazes me--tool bar! Wow!

okjimm said...

Good post, kiddo. I am a very strong believer in non-violence. I believe in it so strongly that I will beat-up anyone who disagrees with me on the subject! ;)

Dianne said...

so very true

since Teddy is on my mind I'll leave one of his quotes

"It is far better to send in the Peace Corps that the Marine Corps"

Missy Francis said...

Great post, Billie. Rylan is an example to us all.

Carol said...

You all made a peaceful story out of the event when you could have embellished the violence. Beautiful. Thank you for writing about it.

thepoetryman said...

Violence is still the tool of ignorance. When will we ever learn this truth?

Nice post, Billie.

Thank you.

thepoetryman said...

By the way... Did you ask the site for the tool bar?

Border Explorer said...

Thanks, Poetryman! (I'm going to use this for The Peace Tree on Sunday.)

Yes, I got that new toolbar. It was easy! I only had to wait a day to receive it, too. I really like it.

Spadoman said...

Thanks for sharing this.

ThomasLB said...

I like the quote and your post. I've linked to you.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Thank you for this post. YOu have given me much to think about, as so often.

I love the Rohr quotation.

Border Explorer said...

Wow, awesome! Thanks to everyone who commented here. This post was more personal then many I write. I so appreciate your positive feedback.

Big Mark 243 said...

I came becaus ThomasLB invited me. This was a very good story to have shared, thank you!

Liberality said...

I personally would have gotten angry but then I would have gotten over it when I began to realize the anger is hurting me more than anybody else. I guess I've got a ways to go! :~))

Brother Tim said...

The title to this post says it all.

I don't believe peace, be it personal, local, or global, is unattainable. But then, nothing really worthwhile comes easy.

Great post, Billie, and thanks for stopping by my place.

Peace and Grace, Sister

thepoetryman said...

The toolbar! Yes! I see it... The other day I must have had my eyes halfway open. Looks great...

claire bangasser said...

I saw today a card that said that 'violence is the anger of the weak.'

For all that's worth...