Thursday, March 22, 2007

If we Listen Well, Ed Guinan

Bio: Edward Guinan is a Paulist priest and founder of the Community for Creative Nonviolence in Washington, D.C.


"Finally one comes to appreciate the reality that there can be no “we’s” and “they’s” in our lives, but only brothers and sisters—all children of God—all sacred and dignified. Destruction of any one of these God-gifts means a certain destruction of oneself, and a mystery that is gone forever from this small, fragile world."

"Violence can be seen as destructive communication. Any adequate definition must include physical, verbal, symbolic, psychological and spiritual displays of hostility and hatred. The definition must include both our acts and our inactions and that which is done directly to people or indirectly to them through what they esteem. Many forms will take on a combination of these characteristics.

Violence should then include physical acts against another (i.e., the range of acts from personal attack to war, that which violates human autonomy and integrity); verbal attacks that demean and humiliate; symbolic acts that evoke fear and hostility; psychological attitudes that deny one’s humanity and equality (legal, institutional and moral); spiritual postures that communicate racism, inferiority and worthlessness (i.e., beliefs and values that demean or categorize). Violence then becomes a dynamic rather than merely an act.

Hunger, poverty, squalor, privilege, powerlessness, riches, despair, and vicarious living are forms of violence—forms that a society approves and perpetuates. We have been too willing to discuss violence in terms of ghetto uprisings, student unrest, street thievery and trashing, and have been unwilling to direct our attention to the more pathological types of violence that are acceptable—the types that daily crush the humanity and life from untold millions of brothers and sisters."

"The other type of violence is the violence of the respect able, the violence of the powerful that seeks personal gain and privilege by maintaining inhuman conditions. It is the violence of the board rooms, legislators and jurists—the white collar violence that pours surplus milk down sewers, robs workers of their wages, maintains prisons of infamy, lies to children, discards the weak and old and insists that some should half-live while others rape and ravage the earth. This latter type of violence is what we must become aware of and actively dismantle if the future is to hold any possibilities for peace and a world where all men and women have a right to live and develop and participate by reason of their humanity, not by reason of their class, productive ability or shrewdness."

"Non-violence cannot then be understood as passivity or indifference to the dynamic of life (i.e., communication between men). It is not the posture of removing oneself from conflict that marks the true non-violent man, but, quite on the contrary, it is placing oneself at the heart of that [conflict] dynamic. Non-violence means taking the responsibility for aiding the direction of human communication and brotherhood. Non-violence means an active opposition to those acts and attitudes that demean and brutalize another, and it means an active support of those values and expressions that foster human solidarity. Non-violence, in essence, means taking a stand in favor of life and refusing to delegate individual moral responsibility to another person or group; it means taking control of one’s life and aiding others in doing likewise. Non-violence is an attempt to find truth and love even in the midst of hatred, destruction and pride.

As the means cannot be separated from the desired ends, nonviolence cannot be separated from peace, for it is the value system and dynamic that makes peace possible."

"These are not good times, but good times do not mold great people. The sins of our excesses and arrogance can destroy us, or these failings can humble us to sainthood. Such are the times.If the great virtues and teachings of the martyrs, resisters and saints are relegated to a Utopian or future-oriented condition, then, indeed, they have little value for us at all. But the great heritage that this “community of liberation” has left us is not some unreal, impossible dream. It is this: Love can, and must, be lived today, despite the pain and difficulty of such life.

Tomorrow will carry the tenderness and peace which we live now. Do not compromise today. It is all, dear brothers and sisters, that we have."

"The editor of this volume finds it unnecessary to argue their case, but merely requests that you read thoughtfully; you may discover that there is a difference between rhetoric and prayer. The former may well impress you, but only the latter will bring you salvation."

"Yet in the aloneness and struggle, in the departures and ques­tions, in the cries and songs, in the dance and prayers there are imprints of heroic men and women, there are weavings of beauty, there are caresses of God."

No comments: