In a culture saturated in violence, where violence has become a norm to everyday life, can we possibly have another option than violence? We, especially the millennial generation, are constantly surrounded by some variety of violence; in our video games, in our news, even in our schools we can’t escape the looming idea of violence. The millennial generation grew up only knowing violence from 9-11 to war to shootings on the news every other day. Is there another option? Can there be peace to this almost inescapable infection? There have been many movements of peace or pacifism throughout time, such as, the Gandhian movement, the Civil Rights movement with Martin Luther King Jr. and many more. The element that all peace or pacifism movements have in common is love. “When all the people in the world love one another, then the strong will not overpower the weak, the many will not oppress the few, the wealthy will not mock the poor, the honoured will not disdain the humble, and the cunning will not deceive the simple.” Love is an ideal that transgresses all cultures, religions, ethnicities, and generations.
Contrast of Secular and Biblical Pacifism
The first thing you must look at is, what exactly is pacifism? Merriam Webster’s dictionary states that pacifism is “opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes; specifically: refusal to bear arms on moral or religious grounds”. While opposition to war is definitely some aspect of pacifism, I think pacifism is much deeper than that. The definition of Biblical pacifism is the basic essence that all violence is highly incompatible with the Christian faith. Biblical pacifism gets at the idea that we were created to be in peaceful resistance against evil. “I claim the right to offer the utmost moral resistance, not sinful, of which God has made capable, to every manifestation of evil among mankind. Nay, I hold it my duty to offer such moral resistance.” So if violence is incompatible with the Christian faith then what do we have to say about war, or Christians that serve in the military? In the draft, you are given the option to refuse the draft based on moral or religious conscience this is something that the church has always supported, but this isn’t Biblical pacifism this is a human merely protecting their conscience. If you are a Christian that does go to the army, then that is on your conscience and what you do with it yours. That is merely you exercising your right to decide on your conscience.
In tangent with Lee,
The Church has frequently held, as these pages testify, to the duty of the subject (or citizen) who does not feel satisfied that a particular war is just, to refuse to serve. That is not pacifism, but the inalienable right of a Christian man to follow his conscience. If his conscience comes into conflict with the powers that be, the Christian must offer for it, if necessary. He cannot fall back upon exemption for conscientious objectors who renounce all wars as impossible to the Christian man.
This all became a very big topic in the religious realm after the first World War. The first World War was saturated in needless death and violence so, the concern a lot of people had about needless death was well understandable. The support the first World War got surrounded the idea that democracy was a social issue and that every human deserved it because of it was thought of like a human right to Americans whether it was or not. From then on democracy was thought of like this and pacifism was thought of like an opposition to all war.
Growing Up Surrounded with Violence
On September 11, 2001, the first major attack on our soil since Peral Harbor took place in New York City. In this attack, horrible violence took place, 2,996 people died and more than 6,000 people were wounded. This was only the start of the violence that kick started the millennial generation’s violent upbringing. Since then terrorism has become a household term in every home in America and has shaped our view of any person who wears a hijab (a head covering worn by Muslims). Many violent things have taken place since then like the kidnapping and execution of US news reporters in 2004, many suicide bombings, the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013, the bombing in France, the several shootings that occur here in America, and the mass shooting at an Orlando night club on June 12, 2016. To put some perspective on this, I was five when 9/11 occurred and I am now twenty. I have never known a peaceful world where violence wasn’t a norm. Mass shootings and terrorist attacks was and is an everyday occurrence for me and my generation. Because of this daily occurrence my generation, we, have become overwhelmingly numb to this violence. We have also become overwhelmingly compassionate to others and accepting of others that other generations have never seen before. “Our appreciation for share of voice is aligned with an appreciation for cognitive diversity.” For me and several people in my generation, we have seen so much violence and hatred that we want to spread love and peace and take care of the needy.
Black Lives Matter Movement and the Millennials
In most recent years, the Black Lives Matter movement has spread throughout not only this nation, but to others, as well. This movement started in the African American community of our nation and then spread throughout the millennial generation no matter the color of your skin. Whether you are outspoken about it or not we care about it to some extent along with police officer safety. “The online poll of 1,539 adults age 18-34…By overwhelming margins, both Clinton supporters (75%) and Trump supporters (88%) express concern about police safety. But there is a partisan divide over whether police brutality is a problem: Supporters of Clinton by more than 6-1 say it is; supporters of Trump split about equally about whether it is or not.” This generation is very concerned about the violence going on everyday all around the world and not only American millennials, millennials all around the world support human rights and are against violence.
So how do we respond to this violence that we hate so much? I believe the way to do that is through pacifism, not just pacifism, but biblical pacifism. Treating others with kindness and taking a personal initiative to stop violence and think though anger without acting first. Being mindful about voting, reacting, and even our speech. Taking care of the poor, the weak and having a voice for the people who don’t and can’t have a voice. The peace movement from the 1940s to the 1960s really took off after the Cold War ended. The postwar generation really developed a new set of values against war. Just like us, the postwar generation had grown up in a devastating pool of violence that had an impact on who they were. While the concentration of the peace movement of the sixties was on nuclear pacifism there was also an aspect of the Civil Rights movement that fought for the equality of all, particularly the African American community. There are so many parallels between the postwar generation and my millennial generation. The basis of these two generations is an underlying idea of pacifism, but can it work? Can our generation make a difference through the act of nonviolence? A lot of people believe that it is impractical and it’s too much of a fantasy, but I would say look at the peace movements of the sixties. “The authors concluded correctly that although students generally rejected pacifism, they “take pacifism seriously as an alternative approach.” In this respect, young people broke sharply with previous generations.”
The Fight Against Violence
I firmly believe that we could make a difference with pacifism. So much can be accomplished when people don’t give up. Violence is always an issue even when you try to use peaceful resistance. People lose sight of the purpose of the resistance and try to harm others. The Black Lives Matter movement I believe started as a peaceful resistance and they tried to start that, but it turned violent because it’s easier to be violent, it wouldn’t be an issue if it was easy. During the Gandhian Movement, non-violence was the basis for it and there were several times where people would fall away and use violence. After Gandhi was arrested one occasion he was put on trial ad he said this “I know that my people have sometimes gone mad. I am deeply sorry for it and I am therefore here to submit not to a light penalty but to the highest penalty. I do not ask for mercy.” But look how successful that movement was. They gained their freedom back from the English just by refusing to do what they said with peace on their side. Nonviolence can go a long way in changing someone’s life and it’s a powerful force that deserves to be considered as a tool or weapon of nonviolent resistance to protect the needy and the downtrodden.
Nonviolence scares people, it makes them scared because they can’t make you angry or violent. They truly don’t know to react to someone being civil and peaceful with them. The easiest thing to jump to in that situation is anger and violence, but when you are peaceful they will be the ones doing the wrong because you aren’t hurting anyone back. Therefore, I firmly believe that pacifism could work. When surrounded by violence it makes it so that’s all you’ve ever been taught to do so you do what you know, but when you calmly resist you become a martyr for justice. Dorothy Day spoke about this subject and this is what she has said about war or violence. “When one is grafted for such war, when one registers for the draft for such war, when one pays income tax, eighty percent of which goes to support such war, or works where armaments are made, one is participating in this war. We are all involved in war these days. War means hatred and fear. Love casts out fear.” Love can change people and no matter how cheesy that may sound its proven by the bible.
As said in 1 John 4:7-12,
“ Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
As I have said before, love is the base for all forms pacifism. Peace and nonviolence revolves around the idea that love will triumph in the end. I believe that God softwired us to love and be loved, which is why our very being craves for that love. If love casts out fear, then we can use nonviolence to triumph we, the millennial generation, can use pacifism to overcome our struggle against violence in all forms. God sent his only son out of love to change us so I believe the power that love possesses can work against violence. Jesus walked this earth without hurting a single human, he was so full of love that this Biblical pacifism was the essence of his teaching and who he was as fully God and fully human.
In conclusion, in God’s original plan of the world was not a place full pain, sadness, and violence. He created the earth perfect and then we fell and violence manifested itself in that. We used our anger to justify our vengeance and violent actions. In the modern day, we hurt others through many routes and we, the millennial generation have seen this first hand growing up in a place that thrives off the idea of violence. My generation has seen the some of the worst violent acts toward mankind and we have been a part of some of those. I believe that a pacifism movement could truly change the world in some way. I know that this will never fix the world or change everything, but not doing anything is not an agenda that I can let myself live out consciously. In fact, I believe that not doing anything goes against was true Biblical pacifism is. I also believe, that if you are not truly serious about this then you will never be able to be a true pacifist. I believe that this requires a lot of passion and a lot of observation of self to truly be a pacifist. “…a technique of conflict—a way of fighting without violence.” Therefore, only “trained troops…soldiers of peace” could successfully undertake nonviolent resistance.” Because violence manifests itself in anger and anger manifests itself in fear. As said previously, “Love casts out fear.” And if you surround yourself in the love of Christ it becomes easier to cast out that fear and love others as we are called to do every second of every day. In this, I challenge my brothers and sisters in Christ to look towards God and ask for the love you need to treat others with kindness, to be so full of God’s love that this Biblical pacifism comes naturally, that God with move in your life to reveal the route to true love for the people he created.
Brock, Peter, Twentieth Century Pacifism. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1970.
Ellis, Aerial, “How the Millennial Generation Has Redefined Diversity” in Public Relations Tactics 23, no. 6 (June 2016): 9–9.
Motse, Ballou, Adin, Gandhi, Mohandas K., Day, Dorothy, The Pacifist Conscience, Edited by Peter Mayer. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1966.
Lee, Umphrey, The HistoricChurch and Modern Pacifism. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1943.
Page, Susan, Crescente, Fernanda and Usa Today, “Police Violence a Rising Concern for Millennials” USA Today, n.d.
Wittner, Lawrence S., Rebels Against War: The American Peace Movement, 1941-1960. New York: Columbia Univesity Press, 1969.
 Motse, “Universal Love” in The Pacifist Conscience, Ed. by Peter Mayer. (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1966), 38.
 Adin Ballou, “Christian Nonresistance” in The Pacifist Conscience, Ed. by Peter Mayer. (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1966), 130.
 Umphrey Lee, The HistoricChurch and Modern Pacifism. (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1943), 214.
 Aerial Ellis, “How the Millennial Generation Has Redefined Diversity,” Public Relations Tactics 23, no. 6 (June 2016): 9–9.
 Susan Page, Fernanda Crescente, and Usa Today, “Police Violence a Rising Concern for Millennials,” USA Today, n.d.
 Lawrence S. Wittner, Rebels Against War: The American Peace Movement, 1941-1960. (New York: Columbia Univesity Press, 1969), 257.
 IBID, 267.
 Mohandas K. Gandhi, “Arrest and Trial” in The Pacifist Conscience, Ed. by Peter Mayer. (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1966), 210.
 Dorothy Day, “The Pope and Peace” in The Pacifist Conscience, Ed. by Peter Mayer. (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1966),388.
 Peter Brock, Twentieth Century Pacifism. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1970), 124.