ANNUAL FORTY DAY FAST
TRUTH OF GOSPEL NONVIOLENCE
FAST FOOD: Eleventh Helping
Among police organizations in the U.S. there is the infamous blue wall, the code of silence, the unwritten rule not to report a colleague’s error, misconduct or crime, if it occurred while on duty. In any official legal inquiry under oath the officer being questioned would claim ignorance of the wrongdoing or try to push blame onto someone other than the police officer. It is called testilying. Testifying against other cops is considered betrayal—with consequences.
This is mentioned not to expose police per se, but to make the point that once an association, organization or institution is formed where power, money prestige, status and/or a self-identity are tied intimately to it, choices are forced upon people and made by them that they never would have considered making outside of affiliation with the organization. The Mafia’s omerta is but a form of the snitch and you’re in trouble dynamic that is part of the security/survival mechanism of all groups that give people access to power, money, prestige, status and/or a self-identity. There are more ways to destroy the life of a person, of course, than by forcing his/her hand into a fish tank of piranhas.
There is no reason in logic or history to exempt groups of religious elites from the blue wall phenomenon, any more that there is a reason to exempt doctors, lawyers, butchers, bakers or candle stick makers. Once a self-enhancing association, alliance, league, syndicate or institution is formed or entered into then principles and practices not previously in play, come into play in a person’s life and in his or her decision making processes. So that, once a person, implicitly or explicitly, takes his or her oath of loyalty to the there is no turning back and he or she must become the organization’s man or woman—or else. Because, once a person is admitted to playing ball with a team that helps him or her ascend in their minds above the status of just average Joes, and once he or she has learned of and participated in all the tricks of its trade, not playing ball with the rest of the team for some reason, or quitting the team, is always a choice that carries with it very negative consequences.
However, the person’s self identity and survival at many levels becomes so entangled with the identity of the particular institution that the “or else” moments seldom occur. After all a team or an organization or an institution is a tool, much as a hammer is a tool. The human being is free to select the tool, that is, choose the means he or she desires to use to make his or her life be all that it can be, as the saying goes. But, once the tool is chosen the person is bound by the logic of the tool, whether it be a hammer or an institution. One cannot use a hammer as if it were a saw, and one cannot, for example, use an institution that supports, justifies and employs violence to build a nonviolent self or nonviolent group. Whatever the team’s identity is, it will become part of the identity of the person. The premises and logic and acts of the institution will become the premises and logic and acts of the team player. The team’s sense of truth and the team’s sense of right and wrong will symbiotically merge with the person’s sense of truth, right and wrong, so that an attack on the team is experienced as an attack on the person, and vice versa. Said another way, anything that tries to bring the team’s or institution’s status down to being just another bunch of averages Joes, i.e., less than it pretends to be, or anything that tries to bring a member’s status down to the level of some average Joe, i.e., less than he or she pretends to be, is interpreted as a called to battle to defend my and my team’s place, status, stature, power, prestige and identity in the world.
Is it any wonder then why the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels, who teaches a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies as God’s will, explicitly told His disciples to stay completely away from that type of elite leadership that takes the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues, that wants to be called Rabbi, Father and Master in the marketplace and wear long flowing robes, widen phylacteries and lengthen tassels, that lords it over people and makes it authority felt (Mt 20:25, MK 10:43, Lk 22:25, Mt 12:14, Jn11: 53, Mt 26:59, Lk 22:2, Mk14: 1, Jn 7:32, Mk 3:6, Mt 26:4, Mk 11:18, Jn 7:25)?
Are not violence and deceit the sine qua non for leadership by an elite or for an organization that chronically generates and perpetuates such a leadership? Is such a leadership about to be truthful concerning the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies? Is such an elite religious leadership about to embrace and employ its vast educational and communications channels to proclaim the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Nonviolent Way?
Or, would personal and institutional survival-motivations, vigorously push a sacral aristocracy to minimize and quash, to the degree possible, any mention of the Nonviolent Jesus and His Nonviolent Way in all areas it had under its control? Is it not a five star fantasy to believe that the elite leaders of religious institutions would ever proclaim that violence is not the Christian Way, violence is not the Apostolic Way, violence is not the Way of Jesus, without having ready an Orwellian interpretation of those words that would render them nugatory. After all, if the very words of Jesus, the Suffering Servant Messiah, that command, “Put up your sword,” and “Love your enemies,” can be Orwellianized by the sacral elite to justify in His name every murderous activity from abortion to atomic war, then no communication is beyond their distorting reach.
An institutional sacral aristocracy of religious elites requires violence and the divinization and justification of violence to exist. The renunciation of violence, as Jesus renounced violence, and the proclamation by word and deed, by lips and life, of the Nonviolent Jesus and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies would require that the institutional sacral aristocracy die to its present false self.