Tag Archives: violence

Breaking the Cycle of Recrimination

“In the name of Jesus and Mohammed, we unify our ranks.” During the first days of the Jasmine Revolution in Egypt, Christians and Muslims turned out en masse to form protective shields around each other’s places of worship amidst fears of violence by extremists.

I’ve been speaking recently to a lot of people who feel that other Americans are out to get them.

“Why should we respect Christianity’s right to exist,” ask some supporters of gay rights, “when they don’t respect our right to exist? Christians told me for years that I was evil or inadequate because I was gay; why should I support Christianity?”

“Why should we respect gay rights supporters,” ask the Christians, “when they don’t respect our right to exist? People who want gay marriage are going around calling all religious people dangerous bigots; why should I support them?”

“Why should we respect white people,” some black people ask, “when they don’t respect us?”

“Why should we respect black people,” some white people ask, “when they don’t respect us?”

Christians still say “Paganism is dangerous, because 1800 years ago pagans executed Christians just for being Christian. That’s proof that paganism is evil.”

Pagans still say “Christianity is dangerous, because hundreds of years ago Christians executed pagans just for being pagan. That’s proof that Christianity is evil.”

Going back through history, we see this cycle again and again. Members of one group perpetrate violence against another; and the other group punishes their group for it for years to come.

It’s time to stop the cycle.

Find a member of the group you most fear, and talk to them. You will find that they are only bent on your destruction insofar as they think you are bent on theirs.

Find a member of the group you most fear, and talk to them. Let’s start now.

Gay Jesus Fish
Some American churches have begun using this symbol to indicate that they are a safe space for gay families.

Violence is a Cycle

This drawing from “The War Cycle” by Artur Grottger is in the public domain because it is more than 100 years old.

If there’s one thing I have been reminded of in my interactions with people this week, it has been that violence is a cycle.

“They don’t respect us,” say the atheists of Christians, “so why should we respect them?”

“They don’t respect us,” say the pagans of Christians, “so why should we respect them?”

“They don’t respect us,” say the Christians of non-Christians, “so why should we respect them?”

The cycle continues.

“They don’t respect us,” say the liberals of the conservatives, “so why should we respect them?”

“They don’t respect us,” say the conservatives of the liberals, “so why should we respect them?”

If we want the cycle of disrespect to stop, the most effective thing we can do is ensure that it stops with us.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

They are very likely to reciprocate the behavior.

Why We’re Here

Violence is a cycle. Always. A person who is harmed seeks to do harm in return; and after they have done it, somebody will
seek to hurt them back.

The cycle continues.

It is in every “I am justified in demonizing them, they are evil.” It is in every “You can’t blame me, they started it.” It is in every “It was necessary to eliminate the threat.”

Satellite: Suomi-NPP Sensor: VIIRS Date: 9 April 2015 Description:  Data from six orbits of the Suomi-NPP spacecraft have been assembled  into this perspective composite of southern Africa and the surrounding oceans.  Tropical Cyclone Joalane is seen over the Indian Ocean. Data used:   The image was constructed from six orbits of surface reflectance (rhos)   data using the 671, 551, and 443 nm bands for red, green, and blue   respectively. Projection:  near-sided perspective projection from 8300 kilometers above 50 South by 40 East Projection details:  mapproject -Rd -JG40/-50/2.3/0/0/0/60/60/150 Image created by: Norman Kuring

It is in every argument that ends in hostility; it is in every clash of politics and values. It is in everything that makes our lives hell.

The hardest thing in the world is to break that cycle. We are animals, designed for an environment where survival depended on striking at the enemy as hard as he strikes at you.

Which is why we still have violence, even though everyone agrees that it’s a bad thing.

Recognizing this common thread in everything that holds us back from our potential; recognizing its manifestation within ourselves, within our everyday lives; recognizing the violence we do in response to what has been done to us; recognizing the effects of that violence which we do on ourselves.

That is what this place is about.

Violence is not determined by blood and guts and gore; the word itself stems from “violation.” It is about an assault on something; a strike against its being, its essence, its right to exist.

It is in the outrage you feel at yourself for being who you are. About the outrage you feel at others for being who they are. It is in the outrage you have at those who propagate beliefs or values different from your own. It is about the rage that others have at you, that has infected you with self-hatred.

Stopping the cycle is the hardest thing in the world. It is also the most important.

We all say we want a better world.

Let’s go make one.