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Non Violence is Not Necessarily Pacifism

Non Violence is Not Necessarily Pacifism

I am struck at times by the difference culture makes to our understanding of violence. Non violence is not necessarily pacifism nor has it always has that association.

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For example, once when I was reading my Bible and I came across this passage:
David {who was to become the king of Israel} went out to them and said to them: “If you have come to me in peace to help me, I am ready for you to join me. But if you have come to betray me to my enemies when my hands are free from violence, may the God of our ancestors see it and judge you.”(1 Chronicles 12:17)

"Wait a minute I thought, wasn't David a man of violence?"
Yet here he is declaring "my hands are free from violence".
So how does that work?

David was a soldier and killed many people:
  • He Killed Goliath (1 Samuel 17:50)
  • He killed three hundred and sixty Benjamites (2 Samuel 2:31)
  • He went out and killed two hundred Philistines (1 Samuel 18:27)
  • David gave an order to his men, to killed and was sometimes brutal to his enemies (2 Samuel 4:12)
I quick look at the Baker Theological Dictionary of the Bible shows, under the term "Violence" a Biblical perspective of the subject is one of verbal abuse and physically acting murderously.

I found it interesting that this concept can be found in other ancient literature.

“a skillful soldier is not violent, an able fighter does not rage, a mighty conqueror does not give battle, a great commander is a humble man”

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Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

A different translation

A good soldier is not violent.
A good fighter is not angry.
A good winner is not vengeful
A good employer is humble.
This is known as the Virtue of not striving.
This is known as ability to deal with people.
This since ancient times has been known as the ultimate unity with heaven.

Translation – Gia-fu Feng and Jane English

Isn't it interesting how different a single concept can be understood in different cultures. By that I mean that those who promote the modern day concept of Non Violence are clearly of a different culture to those that have been quoted above.

Even in modern times there are different understandings within our own culture.

I've always loved this quite from the TV series of Kung Fu:
(forgive me I can never remember the name of the master that said it so I have called him Master Pu).

{Master Pu(?)}: Peace lies not in the world but in the man that walks the path.

{Kaine}: But in my path may be men not filled with peace.

{Master Pu(?)}: Then seek a different path.
At each turn appear those who would be violent and do not love peace.
To reach perfection a man must develop equally compassion and wisdom.

{Kaine}: How do I not contend with a man that would contend with me?

{Master Pu(?)}: In a heart that is one with nature though the body contends there is no violence and in the body that is not one with nature though the body be at rest there is always violence. Be therefore like the bow of a boat, that cleaves the water, yet it leave in its wake water that is unbroken.

Kung Fu (the Tv series) Wisdom

Something to think about!

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