Violence doesn’t just happen. I’ve heard many people say, “Things just got out of control and we didn’t realize it until someone got hurt.” I don’t believe them for a minute. Violence always starts with disrespect.
I know this because I have lived in a violent home. I have been violent. I am not proud of it. I was taught to hit my siblings if they didn’t do their chores while our parents were gone. I didn’t use the belt because I hated it being used on myself, but I hit with my fist. I pinched. I yelled. I put people down. I consider all of this violence.
Although it’s been years, violence has affected relationships in our family. Nearly everyone in my family has been violent at some time. And yes, I count swinging a belt at random throughout the room and pretending to hit your children by accident because you are unhappy with them as passive aggressive violence.
If you feel you need to vent your anger on your child, please think twice about it. A child who is beaten never deserves it. You don’t need to worry about punishing them for good because you will be teaching them to do violence to themselves throughout their lifetime. They might possibly continue the family traditions and use violence on their own children. Such treatment could teach them to turn the violence inward and become violent to themselves through food, alcohol and drug addiction.
Pain that is not transformed becomes pain that is transmitted.
When we live in community, we hold each other accountable for the words we say and the things we do and it gives violence less to stand on. Violence can’t survive where we break down our walls and allow each other into our hearts.
Violence begins with anger expressed or not expressed. It starts with an angry word or angry silence. It includes the buildup of tension through scapegoating and ostracization and it is preserved through secrets and isolation. Without these behaviors violence would never have a chance.
If we could respect each person enough to allow for different viewpoints about God and politics and allow others to live out their personal beliefs then we would have a hopeful chance. If we would give the gift of silence when someone has a different point of view and allow ourselves to speak when someone needs to hear they are loved, if we could serve instead of control each other, then we could stamp out violence forever.
Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
If someone slaps you on one cheek,
turn to them the other also.
If someone takes your coat,
do not withhold your shirt from them.
Give to everyone who asks you,
and if anyone takes what belongs to you,
do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
NOTE: Jesus was not talking to victims of domestic violence here; He was teaching us how to interact with each other as a general principle. Jesus does not endorse violence and He would never want you to be beaten by someone who says they love you, so if you are in such a situation, please get help.