Refocusing our vision of Active Nonviolence

Written on: October 15, 2018

In September, Greet Vanaerschot, International Secretary General of Pax Chrisiti from Belgium and Marie Dennis, Co-president of Pax Christi International were in the U.S. to give the Pax Chisti Peace award to the ‘No Boundaries Coalition’ in Baltimore.

While they were in the U.S. they visited with representatives of Religious Congregations on the East coast to learn more about their involvement in nonviolence and justice. The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart hosted Greet Vanaerschot and Marie Dennis at our offices on September 13. Sister Diane Bardol shared our mission and dedication to peace and nonviolence expressed through our Corporate Stands and the Chapter 2013/18 Directives adopted by the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart. They, then, shared their vision of leading the Catholic Church in her mission of preaching and en-fleshing the Gospel of the nonviolent Jesus.

“In the days following that meeting, I thought a lot about how perfectly their vision fits with our vision and mission.”

Sister Diane Bardol

It seemed like the perfect opportunity for us to renew and revitalize our commitment to active nonviolence. Certainly our world is in critical need of nonviolent leadership. Furthermore, as Christians, we know that we can’t allow the enormity of a situation to paralyze us into inaction and a sense of hopelessness. 

Everything we know about active nonviolence or conflict transformation calls for imagination and creativity. We have to be able to see things differently so we can respond differently.

With Teilhard de Chardin can we understand that the whole of life lies in the verb “seeing”?

-If we see violence as the way to “peace” then we will justify and support war.

-If we see strangers as a threat, we will mightily exclude them from our country.

If, however, we see with the mind and heart of Jesus, violence is not an option and every person we see is a unique image of God. This ability to see rightly is ours since we are created in God’s image. It becomes activated and operative when we live out of a contemplative stance.

Additional Information

  1. Some background information on the April 2016 Conference on Nonviolence and Just Peace
  2. Some historical information about the US Involvement in War.
    (The attachment on war is not meant to be condemning or depressing but is meant to move us to see that war is not the answer. Building relationships rather than weapons may prove to be more productive and definitely more in living as the nonviolent Jesus.)

Another source of understanding nonviolence is this Ted Talk video titled 3 Lessons of Revolutionary Love presented by Valarie Kaur. I hope you find it as moving as I did.

 With Pope Francis, we know that “The future does have a name . . . and its name is hope”.

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