seeing hidden violence

[SSU alumnus, Matt Balcarras, recently completed a book on peacemaking with a special emphasis on revealing our complicity in hidden violence. In it he writes:]

There is violence hidden in all our stories. This is one of the uncomfortable truths that is necessary to acknowledge in the pursuit of peace. We live our lives in a context that has often been shaped by hidden violence….

The unseen violence in our story is this: we directly benefit from the actions others have taken in exploiting the lands and resources of First Nations people.

The unseen violence in our story is this: we directly benefit from the actions others have taken using military force against other nations and people, including civilians.

The unseen violence in our story is this: we directly benefit from the modern slavery created by the exploitation of people in the developing world who produce our cheap consumer products.

The unseen violence in our story is this: we directly benefit from the wanton destruction of the world created by God to be our home.

  • Matt Balcarras, from Peacemaking: A Community Workbook available here.

more from schumacher

It is no longer possible to believe that any political or economic reform, or scientific advance, or technological progress could solve the life-and-death problems of industrial society. They lie too deep, in the heart and soul of every one of us. It is there that the main work of reform has to be done — secretly, unobtrusively. I think we must study nonviolence deep down in our own hearts. It may or may not be right to “ban the bomb.” It is more important to overcome the roots out of which the bomb has grown. I think these roots are a violent attitude to God’s handiwork instead of a reverent one. The unsurpassable ugliness of industrial society–the mother of the bomb – is a sure sign of its violence. “Blessed are the patient; they shall inherit the land,” and “Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be counted the children of God.” (Matthew 5:5,9, Knox translation.)

I shall be asked to declare what any one of us can do in this very difficult situation. What did Christians do during the breakdown of the Roman Empire? They did not run away but went to work cheerfully among the apparent doom. The degeneration of the industrial system–that is, its ever-intensified idolatry of getting rich quickly–offers everywhere ample opportunities for bringing light into dark places. Everywhere the values of freedom, responsibility, and human dignity have to be openly affirmed, even where a neglect of these values would appear to allow the big industrial machine to run more smoothly and more efficiently. It may not be possible to do this without causing offense.

– E. F. Schumacher, Good Work (free ecopy available here)