Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Christmas Celebrates Nonviolence

“And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?” That’s the question which John Lennon puts to us in his famous Christmas song. In the chorus, he gets right to the point, to the heart of Christmas: “War is over, if you want it.”

For some, that might seem like a leap of faith, but I think John Lennon’s theology was better than most. If you want to celebrate Christmas, he says, work for the end of war and the culture of war. Spend your life pursuing a new culture of peace for everyone.

Christmas celebrates the birth of the most active person of nonviolence in the history of the world, as Gandhi once described Jesus. In the Gospel account of Jesus’ birth to homeless refugees, angels announce to poor shepherds the coming of peace on earth. He grew up to become a great peacemaker, a nonviolent activist who denounced war and systemic injustice and offered the gift of peace to everyone near and far.

The life of Jesus is a record of pure, radical nonviolence, like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the methodology and vision of nonviolence–“Offer no violent resistance to one who does evil,” “Love your enemies,” “Hunger and thirst for justice,” “Blessed are the peacemakers.” He formed a community of nonviolent resisters and organized a grassroots movement of nonviolence to disarm everyone. He led his campaign of nonviolence from the countryside to Jerusalem where he engaged in dramatic nonviolent civil disobedience and was immediately arrested and killed. But he lived on in the community and the movement, and that creative nonviolence continues today.

To claim the name of Christian is to be a practitioner of Gospel nonviolence. To celebrate the birth of the nonviolent Jesus is to do our part in his ongoing grassroots movement of nonviolence to welcome the gift of peace on earth. “War is over,” Jesus announced. “Peace is yours, if you want it. Get involved and join the movement of nonviolence.”

To be a Christian is to renounce every trace of violence and carry on Jesus’ grassroots movement of Gospel nonviolence. It is to see life through the eyes of peace, and the nonviolent struggle for peace on earth. It means renouncing our own violence and our complicity in the culture of violence. We get rid of our guns, stop supporting the military, serve the poor, welcome the refugee, advocate for justice, and work for disarmament. It means upholding a whole new vision of shared humanity, a whole new world of nonviolence.

What’s so interesting is that more than a hundred years ago, Gandhi discovered that every religion is rooted in nonviolence. He realized that nonviolence lay at the heart of Hinduism. With his friend Abdul Gaffer Khan, he learned that nonviolence was central to Islam. His Jewish friends taught him that shalom/nonviolence was key to Judaism. Buddhism, he saw, places nonviolence in the air we breathe. And he began reading the Sermon on the Mount every day and found there what he considered the best blueprint of nonviolence ever written.

We all need to rediscover the nonviolence at the heart of every spiritual tradition. That will help us discern the prejudice and false claims we hear these days. It will also help us pursue a new culture of interfaith nonviolence.

But Christians first and foremost need to rediscover their nonviolence. We have not just ignored the nonviolence of Jesus; we have outright rejected it and mocked it. In its place, we have created cults of violence that have nothing to do with the nonviolent Jesus. In the name of the false gods of war, we justify violence, hatred, corporate greed, racism, guns, warfare and environmental destruction.

Each year, Christmas invites Christians to reject violence and war, to break with the betrayal of past Christian history, and to start over again on the journey of nonviolence in the footsteps of the nonviolent Jesus.

Christmas is a celebration of nonviolence, pure and simple. It invites us to repent of violence and choose once again Jesus’ way of nonviolence. It summons us to name warfare as obsolete and get on with the work of practicing nonviolence in our personal lives; joining the global grassroots movement of nonviolence for disarmament and justice; and institutionalizing nonviolent conflict resolution.

Christmas calls us to a high ideal: the abolition of war itself, and along with it, the abolition of poverty, corporate greed, racism, executions, empire, fascism, nuclear weapons, and environmental destruction. This goal is achievable, if we want it.

That’s the message of Christmas. Peace is ours, if we want it. John Lennon was right. So were Gandhi and Dr. King. We, too, can side with the voices and visionaries of peace and do our part to hasten the abolition of war and injustice and the coming of a new world of nonviolence.

That’s a goal, a vision, a way of life worth celebrating.

More articles by:

John Dear, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is an American Catholic priest nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is also a Christian pacifist, an author, and lecturer.

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail