Pacifism, Forgivness, and the Masacare at Houla.

I am technically a pacifist.

Technically. I believe that resorting to violence means that you have lost. I see no reason to own a gun. I see no reason to carry a knife, even when I felt threatened. The most I have ever felt the need to learn to protect myself was Choi Kwang Do in my late teens, and then it was for defense. Then again, I am lucky. I live in a country that is stable, that is peaceful. The most that I can expect to happen to me (statistically) is to be mugged, or have my house robbed. Given my nature, I may suffer ill at the hands of another as I try to intervene to save someone else (indeed, I have done in the past).

It is easy to be a pacifist when your beliefs are not tested.


I believe in forgiveness. I believe that everyone can be forgiven. There are some people that I struggle to forgive, but I believe that if Jesus’ words are to be taken to mean that everyone has hope, then we too are to do likewise. This means that there must be true repentance, and that we must help them to get there, but it does mean that there is forgiveness for everyone. For all those who would do the most despicable things. Some of them there may be reasons why they deserve forgiveness, their past, perhaps. Some of them however it’s not so easy. Those of you that know me know that there are people in my life that I have struggled to forgive. Some of them I have not forgiven yet, but I try daily. I would not turn them away, and indeed, do not turn them away. I am aware that I am not Christ, I do not have his strength, I am simply trying to follow his words as best I can.

It is easy to offer forgiveness when those you need to forgive have not perpetrated fatal and inhuman acts against someone you, or someone you know.

These ideals are simply that. Their real-world outworking fall into stark relief when one is faced with the news from Syria.

With 49 children murdered at point-blank range, some with guns, and some with knives by the brutal animals in the pocket of the Government of Syria, there comes a time when one must surely look at both the stance of non-violence, and forgiveness.

My first reaction on hearing the news was that now was the time to roll tanks. The Syrian Government is no-longer doing things for it’s people. Even if it is blaming anyone else, it’s army can no-longer control the violence and bloodshed in it’s own country, and it is time that someone intervenes to stop the loss of life.

These victims were not soldiers, they were not activists. They were *children*. It was a move done entirely to force submission from what the government saw as opposition forces, and that shows that the Government has lost all credibility, and cannot be allowed to continue. We let Mugabe continue, when he should have been stopped. We *cannot* stand idly by while this happens again.

If we believe, as a country, that we have the right to intervene in other countries, then we should intervene here.

What is sickening here, is that Russia and China are the ones that are continuing to hold up the the UN Military Response. Probably because they are financially invested in the government. People are not worth the money these days.

How does a pacifist face these problems? I cannot condone bloody retaliation, violence only begets violence. Though a military force does need to be sent to stand between the _animals_ and the innocent. The examples from the Bible are often about changing the power dynamic. The most oft-quoted example of the pacifistic Jesus is “turn the other cheek”. This, however, is not a case of simply to stand and receive another blow. It is about being ready to receive another blow in a way that changes the power dynamic. In Grecko-Roman times, you could be slapped with the back of the hand as one of less status, but if you were slapped with the front of the hand,then you had the same status. By offering the other cheek, the person who was doing the slapping would only be able to slap using front of the hand. This then shows that you have the same status as they do. It changes the power dynamic, despite the fact that you do take another blow. It is not about being a dogsbody and simply taking all that is being dished out. I cannot see how to do that in Syria. The Government has all the power, and it is only by over coming a large amount of fear amongst the people, and causing a large amount of the Army to defect are the people going to get anywhere. This involves a wide-spread campaign of re-education about what the Government is actually doing, and not allowing the state-controlled media from giving only the single point of view. How to do that I don’t know.

The next one is more difficult. How to forgive those who perpetrated the massacre. Some will balk at the fact that it’s even being suggested, but I think that it is perhaps one of the most powerful things that can be offered in the middle of this madness in Syria.

People will do crazy things when they are surround by craziness. Sometimes it’s difficult to stop, especially when you fear that questioning your actions, and the actions of others might make you the next victim. Without offering people a way to lay down the burden, all that it creates is more bitter and twisted killers, who become progressively more violent, driven by demons of their own creation.

Forgiveness does not mean that they go without punishment. Too often those two things have become linked in people’s minds. People still need to do earthly atonement, and there will be explaining to do in the life to come. Forgiveness is part of the process of reconciliation, and perhaps now, 5 days after the event is too soon. Forgives brings healing to both parties. Those who do the forgiving, and those who are forgiven.

There is also the matter of those who are not involved being able to forgive them. Some people hate others for their actions with a strong fire. I have difficulty believing these people, that any people, can perpetrate these acts, can I really begin to contemplate their forgiveness?

It seems likely that there will be more death, and more massacre before Syria has any help from the outside world. It seems that it will continue to test my faith in both my God, and in humanity itself.

Sometimes it beggars belief that we have the audacity to consider ourselves civilised.