Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reading about nonviolence....

I have been rummaging around the internet reading about nonviolence.  There is a lot of information.  There is a lot to think about...and write about....and I will be doing that sporadically.  I was hoping to get some kind of a "series" going....with at least a general idea at the outset of what I want to say/convey...but it's not happening.  Like it ever does here on my blog.  Most every thing....even the multi-part series....are written on the I go...morphing as I learn/ponder/consider....reconsider.  And I invite you to consider...and reconsider along with me.  A bit "flighty" I suppose but I am very much a work in progress....

So this post will be very short...with a few thoughts I found in one of the articles I read entitled, "Nonviolence: An Introduction" by Thomas Weber and Robert J. Burrowes

Basically, according to this article, there are two main ideologies of nonviolence based on the principles of Christianity or Ghandi's  Satyagraha.  The aim of both is to initiate a heart change in the opponent.  Two quotes from the article..which was one of the better writings I found on the web. 

About the Christian approach...

Quakers believe that there is something of God in every person and that in the face of evil, as Christians, they are called upon to act in a way that is most likely to reach 'that of God' in the other and so change an evil mind into a right mind. And this is not something that can be achieved by violence.

And about Ghandi's approach...

'It is based on the idea that the moral appeal to the heart or conscience is ... more effective than an appeal based on threat or bodily pain or violence'


aims to attain the truth through love and right action; it demands the elimination of violence from the self and from the social, political and economic environment.

The article began with the following quote...which is so true...

"People try nonviolence for a week, and when it 'doesn't work' they go back to violence, which hasn't worked for centuries."

-Theodore Roszak


Cindi said...

My blog posts go right to facebook...and sometimes they generate a comment or two. Since I think comments are oftentimes as interesting (more?) as the original post. I am copying and pasting a series of comments between Jack and I on facebook:

Jack said:
Cindy, some months ago I watched a documentary on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I came away from that experience with only the thought that I am neither able to condemn nor approve Bonhoeffer's action. It was one of those, "I would only know such spiritual measurement should I be thrown into the very situation." I am interested in your thoughts on this which Dietrich wrestled with.

"At some point, in any serious debate about pacifism or the death penalty, the Hitler question comes up. It's always wrong to go to war? Well, what about Hitler? The death penalty is never justified? Well, what about Hitler?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German cleric and theologian, considered the Hitler question not in the abstract, but in the most real and direct way. As a quiet member of a well-heeled resistance cell that plotted to kill the Nazi dictator, he grappled with the moral and theological implications of using violence to stop violence."
(hotbeam research)
Yesterday at 3:17p

Cindi said...

To which Cindi replied:

Hey Jack...
While I was checking out a nonviolence blog tonight, I came upon a post called "What About Hitler." I'm not sure what I think about Bonhoeffer...will have to ponder it a a bit more about it. In the meantime, here is the link. I don't agree or disagree with the opinion of the author at this point without looking into it a bit more.


Which prompted Jack to say:

Cindi, I read that post and I found it to be quite dishonest. The author is more so teaching the pacifist how to skirt the Hitler objection/question. He or she sidesteps the issue.

The author's premise can be likened to "your daughter's getting raped but before you smack the guy, realize he was enabled for such a foul deed by his upbringing"


Cindi said...

Now Cindi again:

Cindi again...rather long winded....

Cindi McAndrew apparently the "what about Hitler?" question not only "disproves" UR (to its detractors) but it also the trump card in discussions about nonviolence (by its detractors). I googled it this morning and came up with pages of interesting results...some of which I looked over quickly. I didn't know there were successful nonviolent campaigns against the Nazi regime. Many of them worked and the lives of countless Jews were saved. One mentioned in quite a few of the articles I skimmed was a protest by 6000 Aryan woman whose Jewish husbands and friends had been arrested. It was not an organized protest...they came one by one to the facility where the prisoners were held. How brave these woman were. If I am not mistaken this was at the tail end of the atrocities, not the beginning, so they probably knew the great risk they were taking. The Nazis relented and the 1700 men were released. A snippet from another article called Hitler and the Challenge of Nonviolence:
Despite massive propaganda and brutal punishment for those who refused to take part, many opposed this genocide. In Denmark almost all Jews survived because they were helped by the resistance movement to escape to Sweden and avoid the gas chambers.

In Bulgaria most of the country’s 48,000 Jews were saved when leaders of the Orthodox Church and farmers in the northern stretches of the country threatened to lie across railroad tracks to prevent Jews from being deported. This pressure encouraged the Bulgarian parliament to resist the Nazis, who eventually rescinded the deportation order, saving almost all of the country’s 48,000 Jews.

Wow...I am awed at the courage of these people. I am not saying I have all the answers...I don't. I am also not saying that I have the courage to do what these nonviolent protesters did. I would like to think if Keith was one of the prisoners I would have been among the 6000 women protesting....and not in hiding somewhere. To threaten to lay across the railroad tracks in an attempt to stop the deportation of strangers? Sitting here on my couch, all comfy cozy...cup of coffee on the end stand, it seems highly unlikely that I would do something like that.

One more thing...the article I posted the link for...I truly came upon it by happenstance so I am not defending his point of view, although I did come away from reading it with the thought that his point was that Hitler did not just spring up in some Mennonite Community. He was a product of a violent society, religion that encouraged violence and war...and not to mention that there was some heavy duty scapegoating going on in Germany at the time.

And now, I gotta' get ready for work...ugh.

I am going to copy and paste these comments to the comment section on my blog site. A few people read there who are not on facebook (one of them being Keith...who in spite of seeing many things differently than I do often reads what I write. Perhaps to see what wacky far out heresies I am exploring now. :) Thanks for opening up this question about Hitler. I will be reading, pondering and no doubt writing about what I happen to find....


Cindi said...

And back to Jack....

I appreciate you taking the time to find such accounts, Cindi. They are great finds. As I said, I felt the argument by the other author poorly formed and disingenuous.

I do hope you have a chance to explore the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as he is the one theologian/pacifist that gave his life in an attempt to rid the world of Hitler, by an act of violence. While other churchmen, like the renown Karl Barth, fled Germany under Hitler, Dietrich stayed to pay the ultimate price. "He once explained his participation in the resistance by this analogy: if a drunken driver drives into a crowd, what is the task of the Christian and the church? To run along behind to bury the dead and bind up the wounded? Or isn’t it, if possible, to get the driver out of the driver’s seat?"

Some other notable Bonhoeffer quotes and a story I copied are as follows.

“It is the nature, and the advantage, of strong people that they can bring out the crucial questions and form a clear opinion about them. The weak always have to decide between alternatives that are not their own.”

"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."

The camp doctor gave witness that he had seen Bonhoeffer kneeling in fervent prayer just before his execution. To whomever God is "real and ever close," death is, indeed, a "station on the road to freedom," even ‘‘the highest feast," because one who acted responsibly may now step from the twilight of all our actions into the light of God. Anyone who is not gratified with successes and recognition and is not sure of having always taken the right path, longs for the time in which everything will become clear.

Bonhoeffer’s final words to his fellow prisoners, before they hanged him naked from the gallows were, "This is the end -- for me the beginning of life."