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A Non-Violent Generation – Sam Wollenberg

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Well I am now “officially” home in Vancouver and while listening to the glorious rain fall outside and writing papers on the Anabaptists, I decided to carry on my train of thoughts by finishing up my last blog post.

Non-Violence. Quite the concept when you think about it. To be a true supporter of non-violence and peaceful resistance one must whole heartedly commit to withdraw from any form of retaliatory violence, armed protection, and, some would argue, self defense. As much as I try and convince myself that i would be able to do all of these things when confronted with such situations, I really think that in the end, i would fall back on violent resistance and put up a hell of a self defense. These two terms, non-violence and peaceful resistance, mean the complete sacrifice of ones self in the hopes that the opponent will have the audacity and sincerity to utilize the same method of conflict resolution, but as history shows, that rarely occurs.

History has shown us that violence is a way to take something for one owns gain, take back something that was stolen, accumulate wealth and property, exterminate a disliked peoples or simply to prove that the power is there and effective. And yet, after all of the evils that have existed or exist, WWI-II, communist Russia, military regimes, corrupt presidents and politicians, what remarkably stands out to me, is the methods used to resist them. I realized this during our last debriefing at the Winchester Vineyard when Peter asked something along the lines of “What will be the greatest understanding that we can take away from this trip” and after mulling it over for a few minutes, the thing that stuck out in my mind was the monumental task of choosing peace over violence and resistance over aggression. Despite all the atrocities that have been the result of totalitarian rulers and oppressive forces, it wasn’t these feats that stood out to me. It was the courage of those that chose a different method and, successful or not, were willing to sacrifice themselves in the hopes that history can be changed.

I guess my final thought would be in the form of a few questions. How can we as Christians choose a different, peaceful approach to the numerous conflicts surrounding us today? How can we produce a non-violent generation that actually considers the available possibilities before resorting to primal instincts? I don’t know how I will react in every confrontational situation I am presented with and I am sure that there will be times when I think the best possible cure for some guys ignorance is a whack to the head but I hope I can exhibit some signs of change that assures me history cannot eternally repeat itself.

Dachau Today – Sam Wollenberg

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Despite the misleadings of my title, today was not the day I visited Dachau. This post comes a week and a bit later due to some undeniable procrastination and my tendency to process and understand emotions a bit further down the road. Dachau for me today, in our current society, is what stuck with me the most this past week and really got me thinking about how we, as individuals and collectively, deal with tragedy and evil on such a grand scale.

Having a reasonably large understanding of WWII and the holocaust prepared me somewhat for what i was going to see and although the images of the prisoners and their treatment brought a deeper connection, i wasn`t completely ruined. I was more interested in the actions taken after the liberation of the camp in 1945 by American troops. One of the first questions to myself upon entering the camp was “how could one possible move on from here?” It shocked me to find out at the end of the museum section that the general mentality surrounding Dachau and much of Germany was “Repress and Forget”. The town of Dachau even began building apartment buildings on the concentration camp property shortly after the war. It wasn’t until a group of previous prisoners spoke up for the creation of a memorial site in 1965 that a serious plan was put into action. Memories and emotions were repressed in hopes that history would erase itself.

It is quite obvious that this mentality wasn’t entirely successful and consequences came and people were brought to a level of justice. And while ” Never Forget” can seem cliche and ineffective sometimes, current reminders of our past are; i think, an effective way of combating repetitive mistakes. Time is up but i hope to wrap up some of my still unprocessed thoughts in my next post.