When life is violated

Grist for the contemplative mill in seasons of trouble

Selected by Ken Sehested

§ If it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? —Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

§ The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. . . . Returning violence for violence multiples violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. —Martin Luther King Jr.

§ When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it? —Eleanor Roosevelt

§ I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a method of settling international disputes. —General Douglas MacArthur

§ Violence can destroy power; it is utterly incapable of creating it. —Hannah Arendt

§ hatred bounces. —e.e. cummings

§ The only way I know to pluck from the hearts of enemies their desire to destroy us is to remove from their lives the sense that, for their own physical and spiritual survival, they must. —David James Duncan

§ Fear is the polio of the soul, which prevents our walking by faith. —Clarence Jordan

§ Courage has never been about being fearless, it has always been about loving something or someone so much that you'll brave the scary parts. —Carrie Newcomer

§ We all want peace, of course. But we also want what we cannot have without war. —anonymous

§ Every war already carries within it the war which will answer it. Every war is answered by a new war, until everything, everything is smashed. —Käthe Kollwitz

§ I have learned through bitter experience the one supreme lesson: to conserve my anger, and, as heat conserved is transmitted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmitted into a power which can move the world. —Mahatma Gandhi

§ Anger makes us all stupid. —Johanna Spyri

§ You point out that war is only a symptom of the whole horrid business of human behavior and cannot be isolated. And that, even if we abolish war, we shall not abolish hate and greed. So might it have been argued about slave emancipation, that slavery was but one aspect of human disgustingness, and that to abolish it would not end the barbarity that causes it. But did the abolitionists therefore waste their breath? And do we waste ours now in protesting against war? —Rose Macaulay

§ If I have learned anything in my life, it is that bitterness consumes the vessel that contains it. —Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

§ Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under a cloud of war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. —Dwight D. Eisenhower

§ May we look upon our treasures, the furniture of our houses and our garments and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in our possessions. —John Woolman

§ The only thing that’s been a worse flop than the organization of nonviolence has been the organization of violence. —Joan Baez

§ Come ye fearful people come / Cast your sighs to highest heav’n / Yet—though terror’s harvest spread, / Casting sorrow in its stead— / Still the Promise doth endure / Life abounding to secure / Come, ye thankful hearts, confess / Mercy’s lien o’er earth’s distress. —Ken Sehested, new verse to “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”

§ Do we really believe that Christianity will perish unless it be defended by war? If we do believe that, then we have deliberately passed a vote of no confidence in Christianity. If Christianity needs this kind of defence then there is little that is really divine about it. We must conclude that a faith which needs the defence of modern warfare is not a faith which even deserves to survive. —William Barclay

§ We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.  We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. —General Omar Bradley

§ We have places of fear inside of us, but we have other places as well—places with names like trust and hope and faith. We can choose to lead from one of those places. —Parker Palmer

§ No one heals himself by wounding another. —St. Ambrose of Milan

§ It is the resurrection which is the terror of God to all who believe that death should have the final word. It is the promise of the resurrection which renders null and void the victories of all who shed blood. —Lee Griffith

§ Be angry, but sin not. —Ephesians 4:26

©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org