Is American Nonviolence Possible?

The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence. — Martin Luther King Jr.

Todd May, New York (NY) Times

April 21, 2013 | We are steeped in violence.

This past week was of course a searing reminder: Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon and the ensuing manhunt that ended on Friday with the death of one suspect and the capture of another, his brother, dominated the news. But there were other troubling, if less traumatic reminders, too. On Tuesday, a 577-page report by the Constitution Project concluded that the United States had engaged in torture after the Sept. 11 attacks.  On Wednesday, a turning point in the heated national debate on gun control was reached when the United States Senate dropped consideration of some minimal restrictions on the sale and distribution of guns.  Looming above all this is the painful memory of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Now is as good a time as any to reflect on our responses to the many recent horrors that seem to have engulfed us, and to consider whether we can hope to move from an ethos of violence to one nonviolence. Facing ourselves squarely at this difficult moment might provide a better lesson for the future than allowing ourselves to once again give in to blind fury.

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