A Non-Violent Generation – Sam Wollenberg

By July 29, 2008Uncategorized

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.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Jack DuVall says:

    Gently I would like to challenge the statement that “non-violence and peaceful resistance mean the complete sacrifice of one’s 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.” In fact, in dozens of instances in the past century, civilian-based movements and campaigns resisting various forms of oppression have successfully used nonviolent tactics such as strikes, boycotts, protests and civil disobedience, to dissolve authoritarian power and dislodge injustice, without resort to violent means. In virtually all of these cases — in India, Poland, Chile, the Phillipines, South Africa and elsewhere — the repressive opponent did not agree to adopt the same method of “conflict resolution,” but was nevertheless defeated. Please let me refer you to two web sites which offer more information: http://www.aforcemorepowerful.org/, and http://www.nonviolent-conflict.org. Thank you for your good work…

  • s.wollenberg says:

    Thank you so much for the critical feedback. I didn’t necessarily imply that this type of non-violent resistance would end up in failure, rather that it would most likely end up with violence being used against it. Thanks for the examples and websites provided, i look forward to checking them out more thoroughly.