Friday, August 12, 2005

The Third Way, Part I

Because the question has arisen about Jesus and non-violent direct action, I thought I'd post Walter Wink's excellent thoughts on the subject. He does a better job of explaining than I can.

One of the most misunderstood passages in all of the Bible is Jesus' teaching about turning the other cheek. The passage runs this way: "You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. And if anyone takes you to court and sues you for your outer garment, give your undergarment as well. If one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two."

This passage has generally been understood by people as teaching non-resistance. Do not resist one who is evil has been taken to mean simply let them run all over you. Give up all concern for your own justice. If they hit you on one cheek, turn the other and let them batter you there too, which has been bad advice for battered women. As far as the soldier forcing you to take his pack an extra mile, well are you doing that voluntarily? It has become a platitude meaning extend yourself.

Jesus could not have meant those kinds of things. He resisted evil with every fiber of His being. There is not a single instance in which Jesus does not resist evil when He encounters it. The problem begins right there with the word resist. The Greek term is antistenai. Anti is familiar to us in English still, "against," "Anti"-Defamation League. Stenai means to stand. So, "stand against." Resist is not a mistranslation so much as an undertranslation. What has been overlooked is the degree to which antistenai is used in the Old Testament in the vast majority of cases as a technical term for warfare. To "stand against" refers to the marching of the two armies up against each other until they actually collide with one another and the battle ensues. That is called "taking a stand."

Ephesians 6:13 says, "Therefore put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand (antistenai) in that evil day and having done all to stand (stenai)."

The image there is not of a punch drunk boxer somehow managing to stay on his feet even though he is being pummeled by his adversary. It is to keep on fighting. Don't retreat. Don't give up. Don't turn your back and flee but stay in there and fight to the bitter end.

When Jesus says, "Do not resist one who is evil," there is something stronger than simply resist. It's do not resist violently. Jesus is indicating do not resist evil on its own terms. Don't let your opponent dictate the terms of your opposition. If I have a hoe and my opponent has a rifle, I am obviously going to have to get a rifle in order to fight on equal terms, but then my opponent gets a machine gun, so I have to get a machine gun. You have a spiral of violence that is unending.

Jesus is trying to break that spiral of violence. Don't resist one who is evil probably means something like, don't turn into the very thing you hate. Don't become what you oppose. The earliest translation of this is probably in a version of Romans 12 where Paul says, "Do not return evil for evil."
Written by Walter Wink


The Time said...

I like the passage Dan, however, it hurts me when the "Anti-Defamation League" is mentioned in any paragraph that has Jesus in it.

The "Anti-Defamation League" works to erase the memory of Jesus from the face of the earth. The "Anti-Defamation League" would be better described as the "Anti-Christian League".

It is an intolerant, hate group much like the KKK: except they hate different people.

Enjoyed the post though.

Eleutheros said...

"We're not partaking in an unjust system, but instead are about finding a Third Way. Are you sure you're not buying in to Babylon on this point?"

[from another post, I hope you don't mind my bringign it up to here in order to save scrolling]

The answer is, 'no, I'm not.' Babylon's way is to tell the Babylonians that someone else will protect them such as those fellows who's cars have 'to protect and to serve' written on them. The escapee realizes they CAN'T protect anyone, only clean up the mess after the crime has been committed. If someone murders someone in my family (or my whole family) the police will investigate and perhaps catch him and prevent him from harming someone else (by means of guns and force, by the way, is how they apprehend him) but my family is dead none the less. NVDA is much more akin to the Babylonian way of things.

I've read all of Mr. Wink's bit on the internet and no, it is 'nihil novum sub sole'. That as a possible interpretation is centuries old and when it has risen to the the level of being employed by a whole people, the interpretation generally falls by the wayside because of the extinction of the people.

Just one example,although there were many. Besides Latin, of course, the most popular language in Europe at one time was 'Lange d'Oc'. That term is sometimes used today to describe dialects of moder French but in medieval times it was an easily distinguished separate language. It was so popular and prominent that it was the language of the troubadores and poets and all references to 'French' at that time usually mean 'Lange d'Oc'. It is extinct now, of course, because centuries ago nearly every man, woman, and child who spoke it was killed and the few remaining speakers (with trembling lips, no doubt) adopted the more PC Lange d'Oil, the ancestor of modern French.

The speakers of Lange d'Oc were primarily Cathars or Albigensians, followers of a sect of Christianity which, beside its mystical bent, espoused a philosophy of non-violence almost identical to NVDA and pretty much for the same reason.

When it was convenient for land-grabbers to use the Cathars as an excuse to seize the lands around them, they indiscriminately killed them all. What the Catholic Church of the time wanted was simply all the Cathars dead. Unlike Palestine in the first century or India in the 1940's where there was no hostility toward the oppressed so long as they behaved (as far as their oppressors were concerned), the Cathars faced the reality of flee, resist, or die. They tried many of the NVDA and they all died, extinct and erased from history.

No, Mr Wink's interpretation is nothing new, many have come to those conslusions. Alas, when they were in a culture that had nothing to gain by destroying them, they went on, but they would have done so no matter what interpretation they had come to. Where there was something to be gained, they were destroyed. However, Dan, I seriously doubt that Mr Wink nor yourself thinks that the real meaning of the SotM has been hidden all these years and he just now after 1700 years has figured out what it is.

Let me continue on another comment:

Eleutheros said...

Mr. Wink goes to great pains to use frame the SotM in light of social norms of the day, about which, by the bye, he is speculating. So much so that he chooses a "translation" that mixes in said speculations about the times with the actual text. For example, there is no mention of 'occupation' or 'pack' in the original, those have been added to correct another of those goofs I suppose God made when He inspired the origial.

Anyway, he (Wink) goes out of his way to explain how that the supposed NVDA works because the Jews and Romans of the day were bound up in laws and tradition to the extent it was possible to throw a monkey wrench into the works and disrupt their little world. That is, he is showing how that it is not so much the nature of the oppressed that would have made NVDA work then as it was the nature of the oppressor. But what happens when unlike the Romans and Jews, you are dealing with a group whose only mores and laws say it is ok to kill the oppressed for any or no reason as was the case with the Cathars and is the case with Jihadists today?

This obtains, so I ask that it be considered very carefully: An inlaw of mine who owned a grocery store tells the tale of a man who came into his store one day and indicating a can of beans complained that the store was charging too much:
"21 cents for this can of beans! The store across the road just charges 19 cents."
"I understand. That's the best I can do but I encourage you to go across the street and buy his."
"I can't. He's out of them."
"Oh, that's a different matter. We sell those beans for 17 cents ....... when we're out of them."

What I mean is this: What was the first century listener to the SotM going to do besides whimper or turn the other cheek? Slug the master or punch out the Centurion? Hardly! Using much of Wink's own reasoning the SotM can't possibly be addressing the need for violence in defence one way or the other since for his listeners in those situations cited, it was NOT an option.

It is very easy, says I, to become all excited about NVDA when, like the person being slapped by the centurion, there's no violent action that you can possibly employ without disasterous results. It's like offering to sell the beans for 17 cents .... when you're out of them.

Dan Trabue said...


On an unrelated note, I happened upon the translation of your name - cool.

1. I nor Wink are suggesting that this is a New Interpretation, not sure where you got that notion.

2. I'm not exactly sure where you're going with your last bit of comments, but if you're saying that they had no other options than sit there and take it, there was the option of violent resistence. This was a popular school of thought at the time. And Jesus was saying No to that option. Saying that there's a better way.

I gather that you don't hold much respect for Christianity, which is fine. But some of us think that there is a preferable way to live, even when it kills us.

I offer the following story:
In the 1600s, there was an anabaptist fella escaping from a European soldier (I forget the nationality) who was trying to capture the anabaptist to return him to be executed for his faith. The anabaptist was running across a frozen lake being pursued by the soldier.

The soldier fell through the ice and would have perished but for the anabaptist's decision to return and offer assistance. Why, knowing he'd only be arrested and executed? He's a fool, according to you.

But he did so because he loved that soldier. He did so because living a short life of love is preferable to leading a life of hatred or ambivelence that lasts 100 years.

He saved that soldier, was arrested and executed because he was working on building a healthier kingdom. In a dog eat dog world, some of us would prefer vegetarianism.

You stated, "The escapee [from Babylon] realizes they CAN'T protect anyone..." and implied you'll just take care of yourself. Fine. But when your health goes, when a person with a bigger gun comes along and takes what's yours, what then?

We've got to live for a better way. Or at least some of us think.

Thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

"What you resist persists."

What I think Jesus was meaning is to not resist, but to overcome. I agree, do not become like the other, be grander. I would suppose some ingenuity is in order. :-)


Eleutheros said...

Sorry about that double comment, I don't know what happened there.

"But when your health goes, when a person with a bigger gun comes along and takes what's yours, what then?"

I meant to answer this. When my health goes? Then, I die. Like peace, I do everything I can to promote my health (and that of those around me). But when it goes, it goes, and I go.

A bigger gun? Well, that's the thing about guns, anything above adequate is a waste. Once someone was hired to cut down a tree in my father's yard and the cutter said not to worry, he was covered with five million dollars worth of insurance. My father told him he was unimpressed. If the tree fell and smashed his house outright, rolled over his car, rolled down hte street and took out two more houses and three cars ... it wasn't going to be near five million dollars so what good did it do him (dad) that the cutter was covered for $5M?

Two things on the 'bigger gun' thing:

1) You can only kill me once and in one manner. If it is a single shot from a Saturday Night Special or twenty shots from a 20mm cannon blowing me to unrecognizable bits, it's all about the same, isn't it. Actually the larger the gun, the less likely someone is going to be able to make good on their threat.

2) While I am working in the garden (which I do quite often), somone could lurk about in the woods and shoot me .... and there is absolutely NOTHING I could do about it. Zip, nada, nyechevo, nichts, rien, nothing. Likewise if someone has some weapon horrendous enough to remove the entire top of the mountain where we live, there's nothing I can do about that either. Thing is, that isn't going to happen.

But the most important answer to your question is this: few people around here are NVDA. Almost everyone is horribly beweaponed and everyone knows it. No matter the size of an assailants weapons nor the state of my infirmity, the neighbors would never allow him to get by with it. THAT's community.

olympiada said...

Wow this is deep, thanks for posting this. I especially liked the part about the battered woman, having just ended an abusive marriage myself. I have not heard this point of view before. It is refreshing.

Kim said...


Wow! Thanks for sharing this. I'm moved even more by your replies to comments.

Have you seen the marker where Thomas Merton realized that all the people around him - well, he just loved them? Matt says it is downtown and that I should go see it.

I feel that way much these days...loving all people. A big thing happened to me and I'm got really tired of being upset all the time. Worrying was just really bugging me and I couldn't take it anymore...

Well, it is the commone "dis-ease" of modern times, I guess, the monkey-mind that chatters away.

Do you know Joe Z/Loose Leaf Hollow? I think you might enjoy a trip to his pad. You two remind me of each other.

Have a good one.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks Kim and no, I don't know Joe Z. A Louisvillian?

Yes, the Merton marker is right there on 4th Street, I think near Chestnut. Pretty cool bit of local history, that.

I'm still pondering your comments. I'm just not clear on your reasoning. You (rightly, I think) wish to escape Babylon, the system as things are, because of corruption and unsustainability. Or, at least that's part of how I read you.

But you seem to buy in to the system's defense mechanisms. I'm out of time. I'll post more later.

A quick question or two to you violence-as-solution defenders out there: Can you define for me the parameters for when violence is acceptable?

For instance, if it's simply a matter of being acceptable to use violence to stop a violent leader from dealing more death if no other way has worked, then would I be correct to assassinate Bush, if I thought him to be a violent leader?

Kim said...

Dan! :)

Joe Z.'s website

From his site:
A Gentle Proposal

Go gently into the streets to protest the war.
Go gently into discussions with your neighbor
about the price of oil and human life.
Go gently into your own kitchens and living rooms.
into your schools and workplaces.
Go gently into your houses of worship.
into your hospitals and prisons.
Go gently into your opinions of world leaders.
And go gently, ever so gently, into your own mind.
Otherwise, what have you really accomplished?
If you go with aggression, you may win the battle
but you won’t stop the war—for aggression is war.
All wars are lost as soon as they’re begun.
So go gently into the very thick and heat of battle.
Go gently, and even if your cause does not prevail,
there will be more peace, in the world, than before.

:) His center backs up to Bernheim, and when I go I always take my camera. Right now it is hard for me to get out there - but if you make it to his place, let him know I said hi!

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks, Kim. Beautiful poem, wonderful website. I'll have to check in to it...

Dan Trabue said...


As to your last post, I largely agree with everything you said, with a couple of exceptions.

You said:
"Key: In the real, day to day world, it would make no difference to me or my family whether I espouse violence or non-violence."

To this, I only partially agree. To the degree that we're paying taxes that pay for the war, we ARE daily participating in and supporting the war. To the degree that we're driving around in cars that are powered by oil - which is at least partially the reason we're present in Iraq - we ARE daily participating in and supporting the war.

You mentioned you largely pay no taxes and I agree with this concept - starving the beast is perhaps the best way to kill it and it doesn't take half the population to do so.

Ultimately, I agree that the best and maybe ONLY way to actually stop the beast is to stop feeding it. But I think renouncing the violence IS of value. Protesting can be of value. If no one speaks out against the beast, then the beast continues to wander free and unchallenged.

Where we differ, I think, is that you don't consider deadly violence in and of itself to be part of the problem. Would it make a difference if I define it as deadly and UNJUST violence as being the problem?

I'd still love to see someone define for me when it is and isn't okay to use deadly violence (and do so in a manner that is internally consistent).

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for the thoughtful commentary, E. I'll forgo the morality/correct issue and just address your final comments for now.

"When is violence acceptable? When the aggressor has had opportunity to abandon his aggression and has forfeited the opportunity."

The problem with this, it seems to me, is that if this is the parameter, then many can use it to justify their violent actions. Iran could say we've had opportunity to abandon our aggression but haven't as witnessed by our invasion of Iraq. Therefore, they could make an argument that a violent response of their own towards us is well-earned.

The terrorists can say that the US bully refuses to back down and stay home and therefore they would be within their right, according to this logic, to attack.

This seems to be the problem with violence-as-solution. We can all justify it for our cause, and often do.

Myself, I'm comfortable with the notion of calling some actions wrong, included in those being the deliberate targeting of innocent bystanders. I'd further include actions that, while not intended, will have to result in innocent bystanders being killed.

This is one of the criteria of Just War Theory ("Civilians are never permissible targets of war") that makes modern warmaking just about impossible to commit and still behave within its bounds.

And, as I've said before, while not a JWT supporter, it'd be at least a step in the right direction, if truly observed.

the Contrary Goddess said...

I'm not really familiar with JWT, but it sounds something like the old Star Trek episode where they played video war and the "victims" reported peacefully to the disintegrators. Could be instructive to watch. The whole "violence is always bad" thing reminds me of the episode where Capt. Kirk was split into the good capt. and the bad capt. Another that could be instructive. I know it is just me, but it seems pretty lame when Star Trek out philosophizes a whole philosophy.

Dan Trabue said...

But CG, if you don't believe in a Just Peace Theory, nor a Just War Theory, what is left? Might makes right? Every person for themselves?

Do you not think there ought to be some rules that govern our behavior? (That's rhetorical - I'm sure you do - but I'm interested in what they are.)

the Contrary Goddess said...

I suppose what I "believe" Dan is that your philosophy is extremely limited by its either/or POV. Not to mention its top down orientation.

Rules indeed. Respect doesn't have rules. Peace doesn't have rules. It is WAY more complicated than that. And way more simple too.

When I kill a chicken, it is a momentous thing. It changes my life. It should. (so should pulling a carrot or moving a rock but most people are not awake enough to get that) War is not to be entered into lightly, but once it is entered into . . . yes, might makes right. The dice are in the air at that point, the wheel of fortune in motion. But you don't want to kill a chicken by degrees, gradually asking it to give up, be a nice chicken dinner. Nope, you cut its head off all in one precious stroke. And with a sharp hatchet too.

Where you and I agree, I believe, is that it IS how we walk in the world. In our real lives.

What I doubt we agree on is that that both of our walks have hugely cultivated, gardened, cared for, perpetuated, peace. Your philosophy requires everyone to be the same. Mine doesn't.

Dan Trabue said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Dan Trabue said...

CG, you opined that my “philosophy is extremely limited by its either/or POV. Not to mention its top down orientation.”

And I'm not sure how my view is top down. Is it that you think I'm imposing my views from the top? I'm not at the top. Bush IS pursuing a top-down policy with his invasion that lacks popular support, but not me.

That I would? I'm thoroughly unelectable, so you have little to fear. Just not clear on how you mean.

As to my philosophy being either/or; is not your philosophy also either/or. Don't you believe that it's always wrong for terrorists to target and kill civilians?

I suppose you mean that I say it's always wrong to target and kill civilians. Period. While you think that there is a time when this is an acceptable action (as in Hiroshima). Yeah, that is a bit either/or, I suppose. But I think it right to be either/or in such a case.

Tell me this, those who believe that by targeting 200,000 Japanese civilians we saved 1,000,000 lives ultimately, and it was therefore acceptable: What is the ratio and/or numbers where it crosses from acceptable to unacceptable?

If killing 200,000 civilians in Japan with the bomb had saved ten lives would it have then been wrong? If it had saved 200,000, would it have been a wash? 200,001 and it becomes a moral good?

For future reference, should this be defined or will it be up to the individual leader (Bush, bin Laden, Blair) to make the call as to what constitutes an acceptable reason and reasonable cost?

the Contrary Goddess said...

top down in that you want everything "defined", "laws", "rules", enforced equally. Someone's on top doing the enforcing and that would be you in your philosophy. It would be imposed.

Just as Osama and Bush would.

either/or in that you are always looking for that logic break point. Kim can say without blinking that bombs can't save lives because that is her philosophy no matter what the facts say. You can say, ok, maybe they technically saved lives, but does it have to be a one to one, or a 10 to one, or what ratio. Both are either/or, yours is just more refined, less dogmatic.

I do not believe that in a lot of situations that there IS a "right" and a "wrong", a dichotomy. Osama thinks he's right. Maybe he is. But he attacked my country and I think my country should kill him as a response. Do I think that is "right"? I think it is reasonable. There is no "right" response.

That's where we are different Dan. Your Christian worldview, which I do not share, requires the dichotomy. Thankfully, many worldviews do not.

I appreciate getting a glimpse of other worldviews, and your openness on this blog. I'm not all that interested in "defending" my positions though.

Dan Trabue said...

And thank you very much for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts...

But seriously, while I speak in right/wrong terminology a lot because of my faith system, I don't believe in creating ANY laws based purely upon what anyone's religion says. That's not the way we work. That's why I'm so strongly opposed to those religious folk out there who've outlawed gay marriage based solely on their religious beliefs.

But we do, as a nation, make policy all the time that structures how we live and what we do. I'm for policy that is reasonable, sustainable and just. While this often coincides with my belief system, it is not purely for religious reasons.

For instance, I'm opposed to our “war on terror” because I think it doesn't work. It's creating more terrorists rather than fewer. That's a reasonable POV. I'm opposed to the notion of a pre-emptive invasion for the simple fact that we do not want other nations to invade us pre-emptively. It's bad policy.

What if we invade pre-emptively because we THINK there are WMD and we turn out to be wrong? Oops! It's bad policy. You can think of it in terms of right and wrong, as I do, or you can think of it in terms of whether it's reasonable, sustainable and just. But either way, I can't imagine anyone thinks that we shouldn't make policy based on some grounds.

And if you, CG, have answered as much as you want, that's fine. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It was good to have this conversation and I appreciate your time.

Eleutheros said...


Being 'top-down' in your philosophy doesn't necessitate that you asipre personally to be at the top, but rather that you see the current problems as resulting from those who ARE at the top and if we only had different people at the top, things would be substantially different. In that it would appear to me that your stand is essentially 'top-down'.

'Correct' and 'acceptable' keep coming up in the discussion and I'd posit that neither obtains. I think the real problem in discussing this is that some of us are thinking deductively while some of us are thinking inductively. Someone finds a religion or philosophy (such as Jesus and Christianity) which appeals to them so highly that it becomes the rigid form to which all reality has to conform. Someone who genuinely BELIEVES in NVDA will make realilty and all the facts fit it just like a young child crossing its fingers, holding its breath, and saying that if it really, really, really, really believes something, it will come true. Added to this is the mindset that the saints and apostles are backing up the believer from behind, not to mention the Holy Spirit and Jesus, so if the NVDA person acts 'for Jesus' somehow things will all work out right. This is inductive thinking which is what Christianity is in the main.

Others are deductive in their approach. Look closely at history and reality and deduct a conclusion from that. To the inductive thinker, the ideas of 'acceptable' and 'correct' make all the sense in the world. To the deductive thinker, they do not apply. Oh, something might well be correct and something else not correct, one thing being acceptable and another not, but we do not expect reality to conform to that or even be altered by it.

In that light, in the deductive light, those who get to enjoy peace (collectively or individually) are those whose life's equation shows the agressor that they have little to gain and much to lose. I know I'm going on too long but one quick example, and I could give you a score of them: Before the discovery of coal in their country (and thus giving the aggressor something to gain) the Welch lived a hardscrabble agrarian existence. Everyone from young childhood practiced with the longbow, one of the most devastating weapons of the day. Anyone thinking about mussling in on Wales faced a crushing lost of men and horses to gain very little and so the Welch enjoyed peace for centuries. No correctness, no acceptability, simply a bad move for anyone but a fool, when you solve the equation, you lose.

America is not this way now, and that's why we don't enjoy peace.

the Contrary Goddess said...

It isn't that I've quit playing (although thank you for the gifts anyway). I am willing, sometimes, to present what I believe is thoughtful commentary. I'm not so appreciative of what I see as pickyenny questions designed to obfuscate. I appreciate your statements and real questions. But there's a ton of philosophy that gets ignored. Especially when starting from the "violence is always bad/wrong" viewpoint. Violence is not the first choice, but it may well be reasonable.

Dan Trabue said...


On your "top-down" explanation, that I see the problems as being at the top. I don't think it's as simple as that. To an extent, there is some truth that we have a very problematic leader at the top.

But, when it comes down to it, I don't "blame" our leaders. They're providing what we ask for. We want cars and gas and "cheap" pre-packaged food and few inconveniences, etc., etc. We're getting what we've asked for.

So, while I may have given you the idea that I believe in topdown solutions, that is certainly not the case in reality.

My solution for the Bush (Clinton, Reagan) problem is to get below the taxable level, quit shopping at their stores and stop buying their gas. While I'm not totally there yet, that remains my best solution and the one I work on most.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks both E and CG.

I ask you to ignore, for the moment, my right/wrong comments if that's what's hanging you up. Look at my logical arguments.

E, you suggest, "Others are deductive in their approach. Look closely at history and reality and deduct a conclusion from that..." Let's set aside your labeling of us as "inductive types" who are basing our thoughts on feelings and notions (if I hear you correctly) and yourselves as the "deductive types" who are basing your opinions on hard facts.

I don't accept the charge of not being based in reality or history (not that there's anything wrong with being inductive...) and, in fact, I'm not even sure you're using those labels correctly.

One thing I've said is that, based on history and reality, I don't think that Bush's war on terror is working. Where there were no terrorists in Iraq before we invaded, there are plenty now.

World opinion is increasingly set against us. We have become the bully that everyone wants to knock down. That is based on reality, not my feelings.

And if the war on terror (if such a thing could even be waged in the sense that Bush is waging it) is creating more terrorists, more people who hate us and want to bring us down, then it is objectively not working.

That is reasoning based on facts and reality.

I will own up to inductive reasoning in this statement which reflects my view:
Deadly violence tends to cause escalating retribution and harm innocent bystanders, therefore deadly violence is a poor solution.

That IS an inductive argument, but being inductive does not make it invalid or less valid than a deductive argument.

That's enough for now.

the Contrary Goddess said...

More terrorists in Iraq now than before? I could see where one could believe that, if one did not count Sadam and his henchmen as such. But that wouldn't translate into more terrorists in the world, or more aimed at US.

Again, I'm no Bush fan nor basher, but I do think that he's working well, very well, inside his paradigm and the paradigm the government is set up on. So looking at "facts" (which in fact, are not actually "facts" for either you or me, they are pieces of the pie that you and I choose out as the more important ones, equally fallaciously no doubt), I wouldn't at all come up with the same "facts" that you do.

Here is one of my deductive solutions: deadly violence is last choice, but once invoked, kill the damn chicken. Do NOT retreat now. Do NOT cut and run, which is what I hear peaceniks wanting to do and which I think would be the very worst thing we could possibly do internationally.

It is what it is. We are there, doing what we are doing. The choice now is to to that very very well.

Will the bid to start democratic reforms for the whole region take? I doubt it. Noble attempt though. And that's what it really is. More democracy, more oil for us. That's what it really is too.

It is what we do, not what we talk, that matters. Protests are easy. Ranting is easy. Chanting is easy. Not using oil is hard. Not taking government money is hard. Not using government resources is hard. Removing oneself from the industrial exploitation is hard. But in the end, it is all I respect. And all that matters.

Sky Niangua said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Eleutheros said...

"None of the above is easy for us who understand Peace..yeah, us peaceniks"

Maybe it doesn't seem easy for those of you who 'understand' peace, but it sure looks easy to those of us who live peace. And therein lies the difference and the actual crux of this discussion.

As a protestor, ranter, chanter, sender of messages etc. you can choose your battleground (or make one up), you can choose your enemy (or imagine them, as you have done above["people who think like you"]), you can choose your methods, and then you can choose your results (or make them up). It's all the same in the end. Protest in the crowded mall parking lot or chant quietly in your own backyard. Imagine that the the neighbors hate you, or if that doesn't give you enough of a thrill, then imagine that ten people have vowed to kill you. Busy this week? Then protest next week. Bored one afternoon? Get in a little rant time and imagine that a fatwah has been issued against you. Easy.

But those who live peace cannot choose their battleground, their enemy, their methods, nor the results. When the feet swing off the futon in the morning, the enemy is there: having forsworn Babylon's ways and its oil, our opponents, hunger and cold, have chosen the battle for us. Fail to clear the field, plant the corn, ward off the crows, harvest the corn, grind it, gather the wood for the stove, and bake the bread .. and you go hungry. And you see your children go hungry.

I'd invite anyone who thinks chanting and raving is as difficult as really doing without the products of industry and oil to come out here into the real world for a season and try it. Try living in the world you would bring about if you were successful with your protests.

In another writing somewhere on hte web the Contrary Goddess came up with postulate that has stuck with me since I read it, to wit: People are made (hard wired) to rise to meet threats. We had to be to survive. When people's lives get so easy that nothing *real* threatens them, they begin making up things to threaten them. We who are living peace don't need to make up things to threaten us, there's plenty of real things taking up the slack. Apparently people who 'understand' peace have got some time on their hands, enough mental idleness to imagine that all sorts of people hate them.

A couple of times in these 'peace' threads people have said "Why not both, why not the working toward doing without oil and industry and at the same time protesting." Why not? Because then people begin imagining that they are doing something real when they are not and they never gravitate away from the very things they are protesting. If chanting is all the same as eating without oil being involved in it, then it's 'you say toMAYto while I say toMAHto' and it's all the same so why work up a sweat walking and hoeing? Chanting's easier.

The fact is anyone who holds that chanting and protesting does as much to lessen aggression in the world as does a subsistence life, such a one doesn't really 'understand' peace at all.

the Contrary Goddess said...

I make your world safer Sky. Nothing for you to worry about from me. So be at peace. I kill my own chicken dinner and KNOW what an awesome responsibility that is. It is not easy. That is why so few do it and whether they choose to eat Tyson or Tofurky, they have not improved the peace situation. I have.

I use a sharp hatchet.

Sky Niangua said...

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the Contrary Goddess said...

*You have nothing to do with my world.*

Funny, in your previous post, I did. We are all related. We are all interconnected. We are all interdependent.

And the really odd thing to me is, it really wouldn't take that many people unplugging from the system, Babylon as E! calls it, to drain it. 5% would make a HUmongous difference. Of course, it wouldn't be so convenient as chanting. Not that there's anything wrong with that (a la Sienfeld).

Sky Niangua said...

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hipchickmamma said...

dan, kim, sky--thank you for your courage to speak for peace when it flies in the face of everything around us.

peace and even peaceful thoughts are often difficult for me. i totally appreciate your conscious and thoughtful way of being in the world.

i find it odd that the comments have been so very devisive when i don't think it's necessary. not that it's not good to question one another and probe and provoke--that is neccessary for learning and growth and understanding.

but imagined or not, intentional or not, sometimes the comments have seemed to go beyond thoughtful provocation to venom.

i guess i'm suprised by the chest beating and finger pointing of "i'm doing it and you're not" it seems to me that is what pulls apart and keeps peace from realization. we may not all be on the same page, nor necessarily the same book, but from what i've read contrary goddess and eleutheros, yes, you are doing peace and starving the beast. i totally respect that and i think everyone else does also. most of us are looking and becoming more self or communally sustaining and attempting to starve the beast as well. but there seems to be little respect for the journey to get to that place.

CG you wrote, "Your philosophy requires everyone to be the same. Mine doesn't." and i guess i'm just not seeing that. it seems that if someone is differing from your position than they are less or perhaps even worthless.

i've really gotten a lot from reading everyone's comments and i think it's been overall positive, but i see the devisive and venomous commentary as feeding the beast rather than starving it. it may only take 5% of the population to starve and dismantle the beast, but if we can't even "speak" earnestly and with some compassion or respect how are the 5% ever supposed to work together to starve the beast?

Eleutheros said...

"most of us are looking and becoming more self or communally sustaining and attempting to starve the beast as well. but there seems to be little respect for the journey to get to that place."

Take a deep breath, or a good cup of tea (my preference) and take this in the spirit that it is intended. I can't speak for CG but make no mistake that I respect to the very fiber of their being anyone who attempts to move away from feeding the Beast. How could I do otherwise, I've been there, done that, couldn't afford the T-shirt.

Recently my considerable tribe visited some friends who took me to see their garden. Pitiful! Single rows four feet apart when that garden space could have fed their (considerable) tribe and two or three others besides. But I could have kissed them both. They are heroes in my eyes. Instead of complaining about things, protesting things, chanting or idly praying about things, they have dirt under their fingernails. [By the bye, they also have adopted unwanted children and are gearing up to foster more.]

What I am saying is, is the protestor really moving toward starving the beast or is he only giving the beast a snack?

Most of us are talking about becoming more self/community sustaining. The real 'boots on the ground' day to day doing it is another matter. Would you really have the likes of us pretend that the emperor has clothes on?

Hipchickmomma, venom is an expensive commodity and very inconvenient. The likes of us hardscrabble dirt farmers never traffic in it.

Believe me, the first time one of those peaceniks wraps the fish they caught in one of those prayer flags, and thus starves the beast just a little, we will be very quick with our adoration.

We're on your side, we really are. We're never going to unbuckle the hog-leg .44 from our hip, but if we can pass it along to our grandchildren as a historic curiosity, then our lives will have been successful.

You miserable peaceniks, don't think for a minute that you'd not be welcome around the fire of us baser folk. There's nothing in the world wrong with you that a bit of dirt under the fingernails wouldn't remedy. That, and standing at the edge of your cornfield, hideous weapon in hand, and rebuffing the aggressor with, "Aoint ye! This is a cornfield for peace!"

Kim said...

hipchickmamma, sky, dan - Thank your for your words here. I have learned so much from all of you. I agree with hipchickmamma, that this has been an enlightening thread, indeed.

A bitty story. A local preacher and I got into a large discussion about being a pacifist. His argument was "what if someone came and stole your children"? started something in me that has been a path of peace for many years now. Having read Sophie's Choice, Beloved and other literary works where children are involved in the mindless violence and fear of our modern culture, I was prepared.

He didn't like my answer, and from what I understand, uses me as an example as "an idiot pacifist peace'nut'."

Oh well.

I won't share my reply to those here, but I want to say that peace does not come by working really hard to prove that guns, violence and war are actually good things. It comes from hearing the stories of those who have survived. Ask anyone who has lived through a war and what they think of it, and you will get a big, "IT STINKS." Not the people that fight it, mind you, the people that suffer from it. Ask an Iraqi mother who has lost her child in the mindless bombings. Ask the Vietnam mother who still looks for her child in the tall grass. If you could go back to the beginning of the wars in Ireland, you would hear the tales of young children losing their mother and father to war.

No one, if they sit and think about it, wants war, fighting or violence.

But let's look at the root of war and violence and anger - it is fear. Fear that someone just might have something we don't. Maybe the people next door have more less cattle, and you think they may want yours. Better get scared and put up a fence.

So, let's think about what we fear, and how we can embrace that fear and change it to love.

Because truly, love can conquer all things. That is one thing that all faith systems/religions focus on. Truly, as the Beatles croon, Love is All You Need.

With that, I bet Dan would like to see a little bit of that here in his blog. He's a good egg - maybe a bit misunderstood at times - but a good person. A lotta folks dont' understand him - heck sometimes even I don't, but I love him just the same. Just like I love every one of you who has posted - even if you have made fearful angry comments to me via blogger or via e-mail. Forgive and move on. :)

"Put a little love in your heart..."

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks everyone for the delightful (or not) conversation and input. I don't have time now to comment further, but just one thing. E, you said:

"There's nothing in the world wrong with you [peacemakers] that a bit of dirt under the fingernails wouldn't remedy."

And I would ask, what makes you think we don't have dirt under our fingernails? I bike, I garden, I protest, all getting dirt under my nails. Kim and her family have removed themselves from the system largely and become farmers and pacifists. I think this is true, in varying degrees and ways for nearly all the folk (including you and CG) that have posted on this thread.

We are in union in that regard, we GET that the beast is dangerous and needing to be starved.

Some of us may still believe that protesting (in addition to farming and biking and not shopping) is an additional way to accomplish that goal.

But knowing you all as well as I suspect I do (even from this limited format), I don't think that any of you claim to have all the answers and surely you wouldn't begrudge us taking this additional step (of protesting), even as we don't begrudge you in not joining us in it?

Thanks again, all. And Peace, really.

Sky Niangua said...

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Eleutheros said...


See the post on my blog about the Babylonian Implant. Especially the part where it makes people take any statement of any kind as an effort to tell them what to do.

You can tell that the implant is working fine when no critique of what is said is offered, no examining of the logic, no additional facts or alternate point of view ... rather only personal remarks.

While I don't take it personally, after all it's the implant talking, I don't try to respond to it either.

Kim said...


Once again, wise words. Thank you.

E. Yep we "gave up." We realized that our work was not to dominate the land by mass farming, if even by organic and biodynamic methods. Our "farming" changed the whole natural culture here and harmed natural plants that grew here. If total domination of another is "giving up," then I'm the best dang "giver upper" there is.

And yes, both you and your wife antagonized me about our family's choices for survival. I don't have to justify my level of "un-Babylonianism" to you or anyone else. I work with the Buddhist ideal of "moderation in all thing and in all things moderation."

There is only limited information I give to people online, so it is hard for you to make an assumption about me - as much as it would be unfair for me to assume things about you.

See, I know Dan. He was a bright shining star in an office where my husband worked. Of all the people he worked with, he misses Dan the most. He doesn't have the time he wants to visit with Dan because life just happens and we do our best. However, Dan, and anyone else out there, is welcome to come here and get to know us in person.

To not have "the implant," you would have to live in the middle of nowhere. My guess is that you use a computer to log on and type your words. My guess is that you are using electricty of some sort to run the computer. Another guess is that you pay money to get the electricity to come on. Somehow you sell things to get the money you need to pay the bills.

One can also be a pacifist and say, "you're mean," especially when the person is, I felt, being mean and provoking someone into a corner. Hey, I did my best. :)

Life, sometimes, throws a curve ball. That is the joy of being human. Yeah, we had to have gov't assistance. Yup, we had to file for bankrupcy...and yeah, we made a whole heck-load of mistakes. However, there is one thing that didn't change. We kept hanging our clothes on the line, ate as many veggies as we could salvage and ran our water on darn near nothing.

We, like everyone else, do our best. Sometimes our best just doesn't muster up to what others think it should be, but we just keep on trying.

So, please, if you don't mind, just because it seems that you are a kind hearted and fair person, let this one rest. Each one of us is trying as hard as we can to do the right thing.

If you can, E and CG, and everyone else, just see the good that is every person. We, even though we are made in the image of God, are just struggling, everyday, to be the best we can. I stumble every day. Heck, the Taco Bell I ate today because my pregnant body craved it, was the best I could do today. I gave thanks and praise for the food and honored those who prepared and harvested it.

Trying, I feel, is better than preaching to others, or making them feel small for their choices. Truly, we all do our best.

And Dan, in my opinion, is one of the best "tryers" out there. He writes to the paper, rides a bike, and tries to bring light into the world to the best of his ability.

Just like all of us. Including eveyone who has written in this post.

Om Mani Padme Hum

Eleutheros said...

"And yes, both you and your wife antagonized me about our family's choices for survival."

If anything I ws encouraging you not to give up and was quite taken aback that you took it as 'antagonism'. By the by, I've never directly emailed you.

" If total domination of another is "giving up," then I'm the best dang "giver upper" there is."

I'm asking this because I genuinely don't understand it and I'd welcome an answer from Kim or anyone else. You are quite correct that farming an area IS dominating it. 'Subduing the earth' as the Bible speaks. But if you're not dominating it yourself, then someone else is dominating it somewhere on your behalf. Do you see my question? Do you know someone who is too kind to kill an animal personally, but buys meat at the supermarket? It's that sort of question I'm asking.

I'm confused as well about the multiple acolades defending Dan when having read all his blog and all his comments, I have yet to see anyone say anything amiss about Dan. Dan, like a few others, has the strength of his convictions to listen to another side of things without feeling threatened by it. THis has been the most instructive aspect of Dan's blog, because the question in my mind has always been whether the pacifist really believes what they preach. For Dan (and Whollyman and a few others) so far, so good. But others who have vowed eternal devotion to peace can't even refrain from direct agressive attacks on a discussion. What would they do if they were really threatened?! It's been very instructive.

When someone vows soul deep devotion to a principle such as Peace and pledges their very life in the pursuit of it, I don't expect them to crumble at first exposure to a mere idea to the contrary and try to attack the bearer of the idea, and I'm a bit dismayed and disappointed when it happens.

the Contrary Goddess said...

"The best that we can" we are all doing, but we are all called always to do more, always more.

This story is in Matthew and Luke, this is Luke:
"And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

There is violence in the forcibly taking of money from another (government assistance and government employment). It is not that it isn't sometimes necessary, because people do make poor choices, but it is to be the exception, not the example to follow.

Walking away from debts honestly owed is not what I consider to be a moral decision. Rather, I counsel people to avoid all debt because debt=slavery.

Are these "Kind" words. Yes. Spoken with love. Are they judgemental words? No, I know nothing of your situation, as you know nothing of mine.

However, if the shoe fits, wear it, and if it doesn't, don't. I am called to do more than chant and protest and send a message. I am called to live and to love and to speak to the truth. If I say things that make you uncomfortable, perhaps it is not the message and not the messenger that goads you.

Kim said...

E, CG and Dan -

All the best to each of you. E and CG thank you so much for taking all your time to enlighten me and bring me to your way of thinking. I shall forever be changed.

Dan, thanks for your words, too.

Peace to each of you on your path. May it be filled with everything you have ever wanted and more.

Om Shanti

the Contrary Goddess said...

oh, I feel so self-satisfied and smug now. winkwinktiddlywink Well, really rolling eyes. Puuleezze. There are many ways, but there is no protesting logging while using GP lumber, and it isn't aggressive to point that sort of a thing out. I appreciate the discussion from *everyone* here and especially Dan's hosting of it. It has been enlightening. Light hearts.

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