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Edward Guinan’s "If We Listen Well"

Posted by karmalily on March 30, 2008

The Class of Nonviolence is an online “course” of essays discussing peace and nonviolence. I’ve decided to read through about one per day, and the first is “If We Listen Well” by Paulist priest Edward Guinan.

According to Guinan, peace is active nonviolence, rather than something passive that we look for in times of war. He writes that, “We continue to deal in symptomatic terms as if war and destruction and violence are the extensions and natural outgrowths of malignant attitudes, values, relationships, and beliefs that we continue to embrace.”

Guinan’s philosophy of peace is similar to that of Mohandas Gandhi’s, who felt that nonviolence was not only equal to violence, but more effective. A victory won with nonviolence will last longer than one won with violence, because when violence is used there will be bitterness and eventually violence will probably break out once again.

This essay sheds light on a form of violence that isn’t exactly visible to many because of the way we’ve been socially conditioned. “Hunger, poverty, squalor, privilege, powerlessness, riches, despair, and vicarious living are forms of violence – forms that a society approves and perpetuates. We have been too willing to discuss violence in terms of ghetto uprisings, student unrest, street thievery, and trashing, and have been unwilling to direct our attention to the more pathological types of violence that are acceptable – the types that daily crush the humanity and life from untold millions of brothers and sisters.”

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