The strength of non-violence

Publish date 20-08-2023

by Redazione Sermig

Do you want a word from me about non-violence? I prefer to repeat to you a word that is not mine. He wrote it, more than nineteen centuries ago, someone who spoke in the name of God. What he said is also true today for those who believe in Christ; and even those who do not believe it cannot ignore it.

It is Saint Paul who writes to the Christian community of Rome as follows: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom 12:19). It's like the code of nonviolent action. Evil, in the thousand forms provoked by man's selfishness and inferior instincts, will never disappear from this world which, according to Saint John, lies entirely under the power of the evil one (cf. 1 Jn 5:19). Too often evil explodes into actions that are repugnant to any sense of humanity.

Faced with this reality, the temptation to react with violence is easy; and it does not mean that in certain extreme cases this is not justified. Paul VI spoke clearly. He noted that “there are certain situations whose injustice cries out to heaven. When entire populations, deprived of the necessary necessities, live in a state of dependence such as to prevent them from taking any initiative and responsibility, and also from any possibility of cultural promotion and participation in social and political life, the temptation is great to repel such insults with violence to dignity to human dignity". And while condemning violence as that which «is the source of new injustices, introduces new imbalances, and causes new ruins», he recognized that the revolutionary insurrection can become the only means to restore justice «in the case of an evident and prolonged tyranny who seriously violate the fundamental rights of the person and harm the common good of the country in a dangerous way" (Populorum Progressio, nn. 30, 31).
But what may be inevitable in extreme cases, by no means can become the norm. The norm is to overcome evil with good.
(from Sermig, Building with peace, Ed. SPE)

Michael Pellegrino
NP May 2023

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