Friday, April 19, 2013


In our Thursday study of Karen Armstrong's"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" we discussed ways in which we react to injustice. One way is violence -- "fight." Another way is passivity -- "flight." The third way, of course is with nonvilent conflict engagement.

We struggled to define what was meant by passivity. Sometimes doing nothing is an appropriate nonviolent response: refusing to engage in a fruitless argument, for example. Here are some quotations that may help us understand better.

"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." Paulo Freire

"If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."  Archbishop Desmond Tutu

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."  Elie Wiesel

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."  Elie Wiesel 

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all -- the apathy of human beings.”  Helen Keller

“Christians have no business thinking that the good life consists mainly in not doing bad things. We have no business thinking that to do evil in this world you have to be a Bengal tiger, when, in fact, it is enough to be a tame tabby—a nice person but not a good one. In short, Pentecost makes it clear that nothing is so fatal to Christianity as indifference. ”   William Sloane Coffin Jr., Living The Truth In A World Of Illusions

1 comment:

  1. It is definitely not good to be passive towards issues of nonviolence. I know that it is hard to think about but what if you saw someone being violent and you didn't do anything about it and someone got hurt. You lack of action is just as terrible as the one that committed the crime in the first place. I think people need to be more aware of that.