>It’s inevitable; whenever I mention that I’m a pacifist, there is always someone, somewhere who has to try and come up with a ridiculous scenario in which I would be forced to take someone’s life or at least respond violently. This is a gross misunderstanding of the word. Most people don’t realize that pacifism has nothing to do with being passive.
Pacifists pacify, it’s that simple. We pacifists often engage in some very active responses to violence and injustices of all kinds.
For me it stems from how I understand God’s creation of humanity;
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
God created man (not just men but man in the non-gendered sense, the implications of which are far too deep to go into at this point) in his own image. Just a few verses later, in looking back over all that He had created He pronounced it “good“.
God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31
So – if you truly believe that man is created in God`s image, and that all of His creation is good – then you cannot treat anyone as worth less than yourself. I once heard it said that the greatest lie ever told is that some people are just worth more. Logically if that were the case then some people would have to be worth less and it is that sentiment of worthlessness which leads to poverty, disenfranchisement, oppression and ultimately war.
One of the most effective ways to diffuse violence or just to short circuit oppression is to help people see each other`s humanity. That`s what Jesus was talking about when he told his followers to turn the other cheek.
If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:39
It`s important to note a seemingly small detail about Jesus` words here. In a time when left handedness was shunned the fact that Jesus made the distinction that it is the right cheek is significant. Think about it, if you are facing someone who is right handed, in order for them to strike you on the right cheek, they have to hit you back hand. An act of aggression like that implies a disdainful attitude toward the victim, as if they are an inferior. By standing there and taking it and then turning back the victim is forcing the aggressor to look upon them as an equal. The other examples Jesus uses in that same passage, like offering the cloths off your back or going the extra mile are also acts that would reinforce a person`s humanity in the eyes of their oppressor.
Honouring humanity is what active pacifism is all about. It`s refusing to take up arms for your country not because you don`t want to take sides but because your loyalties do not lie solely with your government. (Another spicey meatball that I don’t have time to get into right now.)
Pacifism is about getting in the way of conflict and forcing the combatants to look at each other as humans, created in the image of one loving God. And that my friends sure as hell isn’t passive…