Episode 90 – Fight, Flight or the Third Way
When faced with ill treatment, oppression, or bullying, we are conditioned to react in two ways: 1) fight back as hard as we can or 2) submit/run away. The third way reveals the power in resisting the desire to respond to violence with violence, while also not submitting. The third way teaches us to respond in a way that establishes equality with our oppressor. This is so important because it snaps us out of victim consciousness. We retain our God given power.
Season for Nonviolence is January 30 – April 8. It was established in 1998 by Arun Gandhi, Mohandas Gandhi’s grandson, as a yearly event celebrating the philosophies and lives of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
Violence and Passivity
Nonviolence refers specifically to the absence of violence and is always the choice to do no harm or the least harm
Passivity is the choice to do nothing
How our brains are wired
Fight – revenge or retaliation
Flight – submit or surrender
Jesus and nonviolence – his teachings are misrepresented! He never said offer the other cheek after you’ve been struck once.
This IS what he said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evil-doer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-41)
“Do not resist an evil-doer” means “Do not retaliate against violence with violence” or “Don’t react violently against the one who is evil.”
Turn the other cheek had a cultural context:
Right hand is always used (left considered ‘unclean’)
A punch is for equals
To strike someone on the right cheek – must be backhanded slap with right hand
Implies unequal relationship (one higher than other)
This means turning the other cheek avoids a second slap and puts the violent person in a conundrum
Jesus offers a third way
Jesus proposes an active response to oppression, unfairness, bullying (violence)
Rejects victim consciousness
Resists the desire to respond to violence with violence, while also not submitting
Responds in a way that establishes equality with our oppressor – position of strength
We can use this Third Way in our personal lives
Violence and nonviolent responses are not reserved for large scale oppression
Also applies to our everyday lives – we’ve all been put down, yelled at, humiliated, excluded, made fun of or belittled
Pray and meditate
Live in a constant awareness of the Presence of God
NOTE: A summary of Walter Wink’s writings on Jesus’s teachings can be found here. But get the book if you can!
Dialogue and Inquiry
What were you taught regarding “do not resist an evil-doer” and “turn the other cheek”?
When you react violently to acts of violence toward you, what is the result? Share a story about it.
Have you successfully employed the third way? What happened?
Sometimes saying or doing nothing is an act of submission. But saying or doing nothing can also be the third way. Share how you experience this distinction.
What does the Season for Nonviolence inspire in you?
When faced with ill treatment by another, I pause. I create space between what happened and my response. I go within, listen to the voice of Spirit and find the Peace that passes understanding. I remember that God is in everyone and if I respond like-for-like, I lose my opportunity to create something more loving and powerful. I find a third way – the way of peacefully standing in my Truth. I am Power. I am Peace. I am Love.