Anyone who claims to be a pacifist, or at least to practice an ethic of nonviolence, has been challenged about its application. It’s not practical, people say, it’s not realistic.
The challenge is especially common during times of imminent or ongoing war. To combat evil or rescue the powerless non-violently is impossible, they say. But I think there’s something deeply true and promising about impossibility.
After all, as a Christian, I believe in the impossible—the foolishness of Jesus’s life and death and resurrection and the impossibility of meaning in the meaninglessness of life. I reach for the impossible as a way of embracing existential uncertainty, as a way of rejecting fear.
Is it really impossible to overcome hate with love and sorrow with joy?
And that’s what makes it worth seeking and worth practicing. Because what if?
I practice by loving my neighbors. I practice by feeding the hungry. I practice by welcoming the stranger.
And a funny thing happens when I practice a thing. After a while, it becomes habit. And I am changed.