Compiled by Jessica Hawkinson, Peace Discernment Steering Team member
At the 2013 Montreat College Conference, I provided interested students and leaders two questions to respond to in writing. The responses are compiled below.
Where do you see violence in your community and world?
Emotional violence, especially against youth. In ourselves. My high school with fights between peers. Wars between religions. A shooting at my kids’ high school. Demonstrations by hate groups. Fighting at sporting events. Various wars around the world. Frankly, where do we not see violence? At high school some fights would break out. Drunk people at football games, bars, sororities and fraternities, etc. In my community. Gangs, domestic violence, micro-aggressions, violence against blacks and women. I see violence in the way people speak to each other. In shootings and gun violence in schools and other areas. I see violence in our homes on our TVs. I see violence in our schools and on our streets, possibly because we have allowed a culture of violence. I see violence wherever there is miseducation. I see violence at the University of Pennsylvania. Hurtful words in a publication can be published anonymously about individuals. There were over 320 homicides in Philly last year. There were 513 homicides in Chicago last year. Violence is done to the earth, to people, etc. In the hate that others have for strangers and the innocent who are hurt because of it. I see violence in downtown Richmond. Gun violence. Instances of domestic violence kept quiet. I see violence in how we behave toward one another, in line, online, and everywhere to the ongoing acts of violence, genocide, war, and so much more.
How should the church respond to acts of violence?
Begin with the Bible and the Gospel value of peace, exploring what those mean for us. Individual upheaval. We should respond with sympathy and education about our similarities and how we can use those to help. We should not respond to violence with silence, but not with violence either. Speak out, do something, change at least our small corner of the world. The church should teach and preach about acceptance and loving each other. Possibly try to work with kids at a young age to draw them away from bad habits will help. The church should respond with compassion and support for victims, disapproval and paths to reform for aggressors, and awareness to prevent the complacency of the public. We should educate people about what is considered violence and how to prevent it. We should offer support for strengthened gun control and better mental health initiatives. Our church leadership is considering challenging our congregation to shut off all violent TV. To watch NO violence on TV and movies. We would need to take action AND talk about why we are doing it. The church should respond with prayer and direct service to communities affected by violence.the church should teach us how to start with ourselves, with the ways we are violent to our own self, our families, neighbors, communities, as well as the big stuff. The church should pray and reach out to help victims of violence. The church should respond with compassionate, insistent action. The church should model peace as well as how to agree to disagree, conflict resolution.