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“[Judy’s] questions were these: Do you believe in the concept of self defense? Do you believe it is moral to hold your own life in higher regard than the life of your attacker? Do you believe you have a moral right to defend and protect your children from a violent attack, even if it means you have no choice but to kill the attacker? I understand you would always rather find an alternative to violence, but do you think it is ever justified?”

First the short version.

Yes, I believe in self-defense. No, I don’t believe it is moral to hold my own life in higher regard than the life of my attacker, but that doesn’t mean either of us has to die. Yes, I believe I have a moral right to defend and protect my children from a violent attack, but I have no clue as to how to go about killing anyone, so that’s kind of a moot point. Sometimes violence may be justified, but we are talking hypothetical situations here, and I don’t know what those situations might be.

Now I’ll elaborate.

Yes, I believe in self-defense. Even the strongest pacifist believes that he/she can move out of the line of a bullet. A person has not “lost his religion,” if he/she ducks or runs. Nonviolence is not only a way of life but it is also a strategy used to diffuse the anger of the enemy. A dead pacifist can negotiate nothing. I have not been through nonviolence training. In the main, I am not in violent situations.

No, I don’t believe it is moral to hold my own life in higher regard than the life of my attacker, but that doesn’t mean either of us has to die. My life is not worth more than someone else’s life. I do not have more right to live than anyone else, but I do not have an obligation to die at the hand of an attacker. I do not have an obligation to let anyone hurt me. In fact, I have a right to stop an attacker from hurting me. The attacker has no right to hurt me any more than I have the right to attack and hurt him/her. It’s better to run than die. It’s better to stop the attack than to run.

Yes, I believe I have a moral right to defend and protect my children from a violent attack, but I have no clue as to how to go about killing anyone, so that’s kind of a moot point. My children are now grown and would be more likely to protect me from an attacker than me them, but I get your point. A mother is a vicious animal. I would most likely have killed someone before I let him/her harm my babies! Being a mother is not about diplomacy, at least not in the face of attack: It is about protecting one’s young.

Sometimes violence may be justified, but we are talking hypothetical situations here, and I don’t know what those situations might be, other than when instinct takes over, such as when a mother protects her child or a rapist jumps out from behind the door, and a woman (me) bites the life out of his dick. But I won’t have a gun in my house.

**
But this is not really what nonviolence is about. Pacifism is about preparing to meet an enemy in a political venue, rather than a personal one. It is about using an enemy’s own conscience to defeat him. Nonviolence presumes that the enemy has a conscience.

I am against the death penalty. ( See the above paragraph that begins, No, I don’t believe it is moral to hold my own life in higher regard than the life of my attacker, that doesn’t mean either of us has to die.) But I have no problem with the capture and imprisonment of insane political figures and keeping them in jail until they die.

Oh, but how do you do that without guns and rockets and tanks and aircraft and Hummers and other miscellaneous military expenditures? Well, maybe you get some of the sane people from various countries on the same wavelength: “We want to stop the insane ___.” And you go in and get him/her. Maybe Jimmy Carter can help.

There are more good people than bad ones in the world. Remember “God is still on the throne.”

“I was most surprised that Washington’s first opera company was African American. . . .  It’s amazing that this particular chapter has not been told.”

And so was I amazed. Read about this remarkable piece of African American History in this month’s Smithsonian Magazine.

Also in this issue are Portraits of Black Resistance and Celebrating Resistance (through photography).

Then the King will say to those on his right hand, ”Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome . . . .  In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.  Matthew 25: 34-35, 40

” . . . In our culture the concept of hospitality has lost much of its power and is often used in circles where we are more prone to expect a watered down  piety than a serious search for an authentic Christian spirituality. . . . [And yet] it is one of the richest Biblical terms, which can deepen and broaden our insight in our relationships to our fellow human beings.  Old and New Testament stories not only show how serious our obligation is to welcome the stranger in our home, but they also tell us that guests are carrying precious gifts with them that they are eager to reveal to a receptive host.”

to read the rest of this devotional see Show Me the Way: Daily Lenten Readings by Henri Nouwen

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