Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be children of God in heaven.
Jesus proclaimed a radical message about God’s love. He offered a challenging invitation to love one another without condition – to love those who are different from ourselves. In a world with so many examples of hatred, violence, war, and unnecessary death, Jesus appeared with the startling call for us to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, to trust in the way of peace, and to be especially concerned for those most in need. This makes no sense to people living in the culture of the United States. Can we, as followers of Jesus today, be faithful to this call, or will the vision of active loving nonviolence get lost and forgotten even by people who call themselves Christian?
Adapted from Education for Justice
May I learn the way of nonviolence.
What does the Christian vision of active nonviolence say to you? In the efforts to limit gun violence? In the work of peace organizations? in the desire to welcome immigrants? In efforts to slow climate change? Is this practical and realistic? Do you believe it should be our response? What “spirituality” will make it possible to live this way?
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your God who is in heaven. For God makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your relatives what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Wars shatter so many lives. I think especially of children robbed of their childhood.
It is to be hoped that hatred and violence will not triumph in people’s hearts, especially among those who are struggling for justice, and that all people will grow in the spirit of peace and forgiveness.
Pope John Paul II
At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
That’s all nonviolence is – organized love.
Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.
Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.
Thomas A. Edison
The power of nonviolence is not circumstance specific. It is as applicable to the problems that confront us now, as to problems that confronted generations in the past. It is not a medicine or a solution so much as a healing process. It is the active spiritual immune system of humanity.
One individual can begin a movement that turns the tide of history. Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement, Mohandas Gandhi in India, Nelson Mandela in South Africa are examples of people standing up with courage and non-violence to bring about needed changes.
To say that a being who is sentient has no interest in continuing to live is like saying that a being with eyes has no interest in continuing to see. Death—however “humane”—is a harm for humans and nonhumans alike.
Gary L. Francione
I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more.
Islam teaches tolerance, not hatred; universal brotherhood, not enmity; peace, and not violence.
Peace cannot be built on exclusivism, absolutism, and intolerance. But neither can it be built on vague liberal slogans and pious programs gestated in the smoke of confabulation. There can be no peace on earth without the kind of inner change that brings man back to his “right mind.