This article is based on the inspiring daily meditations of Richard Rohr. It draws upon a spiritual understanding of the way in which violence arises in our society and how we can develop a resistance to violence in our world through practicing active nonviolence.

I sense the urgency of the Holy Spirit, with 7.5 billion humans now on the planet at the same time. Our future is either nonviolent or there is no future at all. 

The root of violence is the illusion of separation—from God, from Being itself, from being one with everyone and everything.

If we do not recognize the roots of violence at the first and hidden structural level (“the world” - the structural and exploitative patterns of capitalism, consumerism, materialism, communism, etc), we will waste time focusing exclusively on the second and individual level (“the flesh” - our individual misperceptions and mistakes in that world), and we will seldom see our real devils, who are always disguised as angels of light (“the devil” - the military / penal / institutional / banking / global corporate / establishments that seek to 'save' us whilst actually harming us).

Nonviolence comes from an awareness that I am also the enemy and my response is part of the whole moral equation. I cannot destroy the other without destroying myself.

Most of our conflicts arise from a very fragile sense of the self. When we’re full of fear, the enemy is everywhere. We endlessly look for the problem outside of ourselves so we can expel or exterminate it.

Jesus undercut the basis for all violent, exclusionary, and punitive behaviour. He became the forgiving victim so we would stop creating victims.

A Vow of Nonviolence

Recognizing the violence in my own heart, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow for one year to practice the nonviolence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God. . . . You have learned how it was said, “You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy”; but I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven. (Matthew 5:9, 43-45)

Before God, I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus

  • by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
  • by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it;
  • by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
  • by persevering in nonviolence of tongue and heart;
  • by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
  • by actively resisting evil and working nonviolently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.

God, I trust in Your sustaining love and believe that just as You gave me the grace and desire to offer this, so You will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.