Episode 90 – Fight, Flight or the Third Way

 In Podcast

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.

Taking decisions for the future man standing with three direction arrow choices, left, right or move forward


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)

Jesus and Nonviolence – A Third Way, by Walter Wink

“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

Preserves dignity

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

Spiritual Practice

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?

Closing Thought

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.

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