“God of all humanity,
in times of violence
we see how inhuman we can be.”1
Pádraig Ó Tuama
March 29, 2021
I have been reflecting about the impact of structural violence in our world. This reflection has not been a mere intellectual process but rather a deep spiritual practice in which I have examined the way that I embrace non-violence. It has not been an easy task, especially when considering some hard facts from present days. For instance, three facts that I have brought into my prayer recently include:
- Gun violence in Philadelphia has increased 40% over the past year;
- The start of the pandemic has seen an increase in violence against people of Asian descent and Asian Americans;
- Half of Yemen’s population is on the brink of famine.
It is important to me that my spiritual practice is in tune with what is going on within me, around me, and in the world. This is how I walk the spiritual path of personal and social transformation. In that process, non-violence is a critical step for inner and outer renewal. To paraphrase Friend Bayard Rustin, violence not only affects our physical integrity, but it ruins our moral and social integrity, and our ability to practice justice and peace.
At Pendle Hill, we strive to create peace with justice in the world by transforming lives. This is the vision that guides our educational programs, our hospitality, and our communal experience. This vision is deeply rooted and nurtured by our Quaker faith, and as we encounter the many challenges of violence in our lives, we must remain faithful and resist by practicing non-violence. We feel called to this commitment as we seek divine guidance in our personal prayer and gathered worship, and as we support each other in our experiential learning. This process of inner exploration and mutual accompaniment is, in simple terms, what I identify as the Pendle Hill way. A path where we can be and become prophetic witnesses of the truth of non-violence.
We must exercise non-violence as a practice within the small and big actions of everyday. It is not just a requirement for peace but a path to justice and transformation, and a journey in which we can celebrate the beauty of life as we re-create and recover our humanity.
1 Poem “A prayer in time of violence” (extract). Pádraig Ó Tuama (2017): Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community (Canterbury Press: London, UK).