Scholars much more intelligent than myself have brought to my attention that our world operates on what they call "the myth of redemptive violence." This premise maintains that our tit-for-tat culture is under the assumption that the next act of violence will be the last act of violence. We believe that that next comeback or harsh word or name called or bomb dropped, will finally settle the score for good, bringing about redemption through these means of violence.
It is obvious that this is a myth. Just look at antics on the elementary school playground. One kid says something mean to another and the other responds. Now the bar has been raised and there is an expectation of something worse than the previous comment. We've all been a part of these escalating engagements, and we realize that they never end civilly. They always end with someone being hurt irreparably, but never redemptively.
I witnessed an example of this while downtown a few weeks ago. In a big city you are constantly inundated with sounds, one of them being horns honking as impatience levels rise in the midst of heavy traffic. Usually, however, this honking is one-sided (one person is mad at another, and the other feels shamed for their poor decisions). That day, though, I heard my first "double honk". One car honked at another and immediately the other car honked in response. It was definitely the sounds of the myth of redemptive violence. There's no way that the second honk was going to let the first honk have the last word.
I was so keenly aware at that moment of the idiocy of this quest to settle the score through upping the ante. The message of Jesus, and a few others who have followed (i.e. MLK, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Oscar Romero), has shown for us that the only true redemptive comes through non-violent resistance. In the words of Jesus, it is the willingness to "take up your cross" that shows the world the true beauty of the redemptive process, the life of turning the other cheek, loving your neighbor, and ultimately carrying the burden of the cross of calvary upon your back. The hard part is that the cross is heavy and may cost us everything, and many of us (myself included on most days) aren't willing to bear that load. May we be people who lean into the life of ultimate sacrifice, a life of submission that leads to redemption.