Rev. John Dear, Rev. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

Last month’s movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., was another wake-up call for our gun-crazy, violent nation. We grieve for the dead and wounded and join with others in a demand handgun reform, but what we need is a fundamental change among us all. This ongoing horrific violence and the daily violence we read about summon us to make a principled turn from violence to nonviolence. Every one of us, and every sector of society, needs to make that turn. Without our conversion to nonviolence, we will be forever stuck in the ancient mindlessness and downward spiral of violence. But we need not be stuck. We can choose to be nonviolent people.

Yes, we have to ban handguns and AK-47s. And we need to abolish war, executions, drones, Trident Submarines, extrajudicial assassination, state-sanctioned violence and nuclear weapons. We have a president who starts his day sending his kids off to school and deciding over coffee whom to assassinate. We send drones over Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan that terrorize children. We execute people legally. And in Los Alamos, N.M., we continue to build nuclear weapons like it is a normal thing to do. We hold the world hostage with our nuclear terrorism.

Everywhere we turn, we hear of more violence. We feel it in ourselves as if we’ve been infected by some kind of plague. For the many young people who are not loved, not taught to be nonviolent, not given any hope or meaning in life, not invited to join the nonviolent struggle for justice and peace, the nihilism and insanity of further violence can feel like a natural progression. “Everyone is violent, so I’ll be violent, too,” many think. They are not taught how to live nonviolently.

It’s a wonder there aren’t more massacres…

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