As I was composing my previous post on non-violent resistance, I found myself wondering about resisting evil on a personal level in a way of non-violence. When we talk about resisting evil, we often speak of resisting systemic evil. We speak of working against systems of slavery, greed, and numerous institutions of injustice, but rarely speak of working against evil that attacks on a personal level.
Through the help of authors like Walter Wink and Walter Brueggemann and activists like Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Oscar Romero, and Gandhi, we have begun to see that fighting evil with violence does not work on the systemic level. Violence only begets more violence. Yet, we keep trying to fight individual evil (i.e. sin) through violent resistance. We hate our sin. We hate ourselves for sinning. We desperately try to quit that sin 'cold turkey.' We feel immense guilt and shame when the sin is not 'conquered' overnight. No wonder we have not been very successful in fighting this evil when we have only tried violent methods of sin management.
I wonder if a less violent means of resisting personal evil and sin might reap more rewards. I am not quite sure how to begin this process, but a few things seem important in this conversation. First, a non-violent resistance of sin will take much longer than the alternative. Slavery wasn't ended in a day. Apartheid was not ended in a week. The Civil Rights Movement took time. Do we have the patience it will take to not expect immediate results? Will we be gracious with ourselves and others through the long, arduous process of transformation? Can we find ways to no longer feel shame and guilt if we don't end our sinful ways overnight?
And secondly, this process of non-violent resistance requires including others in the journey toward healing and restoration. We live in a lone-ranger, individualized society where everyone generally keeps to themselves and solves their own problems. We rarely involve others in helping us move toward health. Yet, with the non-violent resistance movements that we have seen in the last hundred years, they are all incredibly communal in nature. People rely on one another. Friends rally around one another for support and prayer. No one solves these problems on their own. May we come to be people who help one another with our personal evils as well. May we journey together with others in a way that helps each one on the path make steps toward new life. I look forward to the journey. A peaceful journey. A gracious journey. A journey with friends.