Thursday, August 30, 2007

Using Violence

Can violence ever be a necessary tool to achieve a desired consequence?

Yesterday a would-be robber was shot four times by a security guard during an attempted cash-in-transit robbery. A witness phoned a radio talk show and described how the security guards then kicked and pushed the wounded robber, who was lying on the ground screaming in pain. Now this witness may, or may not be right. The thing that I found disturbing was the reaction inside of myself.

Because I know the ethical theory: that even the crooks have civil rights; and that when we treat a person inhumanely we lose our humanity; and that abusing the abuser makes me abusive. I am, after all, a convinced pacifist

But my first reaction was “Serves him right”. And the multitude of SMS messages and phone-in callers agreed. Some went as far as wishing that he had been shot more times, or that he had been shot in the head, or that the ‘bleeding-heart’ witness should get in touch with reality. And I understood all of this.

Because I am afraid of being the next victim.
And this has changed my behaviour:
I no longer walk on Table Mountain, because people are being mugged on the mountain
I look carefully in the car’s mirrors when I approach my home, because people in my area are being attacked in their driveways.
I do not like entering public toilets on my own, because it is a place where people are robbed.
And so I found a place in my pacifist heart that understood exactly why those security guards, and all those radio listeners, wanted to use violence on the robber.

Pray for our country – that we can find ways of retaining our humanity without being tempted to rejoice in violence.


Gus said...

Thanks for the honesty.

I feel the same.
I feel bad for feeling that way.

But I feel the same.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

How did you feel when that guy who killed a puppy with a chainsaw was killed in a road accident? Different scenario, but same violence deserves violence feeling.

Dave Lynch said...

I don't know Pete...when I hear of men who abuse and rape children over many years I wonder if they can ever be of benefit to this earth.
Jesus never talks about the thieves and robbers in the 'they got what they deserved' tone, yet I have thought this.
Is it my desire for justice part of my fallen nature? Do I not trust that the God of the earth will do right?
Does my desire for retribution ultimately show that I do not believe a God exists who will exact justice?
Have our governments and courtrooms let us down?

Violence is a close bed fellow of mankind, and sometimes I can understand (yet not agree) with its use, but violence is sadly part of our fallen world.

May God hasten the day when the wolf and lamb lay down together, and let each one of us begin to live as if they already were.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting what justice means to us when we're thinking theologically about something far-off...versus what justice means to us in a gut feeling, about something very near.

Someday maybe my gut feelings will be more shaped by God's idea of justice.

Pray for my country, too. Perhaps we're not beyond all hope? Hmm..

Sylvia said...

I live in a country that is devastated by the violent death of an 11year old boy Rhys Jones who was shot whilst playing football.

It is so hard not to wish ill on those to took a young life.

Our countries all need prayer. Please pray for the UK