VIOLENCE WEEK: Q & R re intervention

This week I’ll have a daily post relating to the issue of violence.
Here’s the Q:

Having just read LGen. Romeo Dallaire’s “Shake Hands With the Devil”, followed by the Q&A in your blog today. I ‘ve read and on the whole agreed with what you say about war, However, how should the world, icluding Christians, deal with problems such as the genocide in Rwanda. Prayer seems to have been ineffective and nonviolent UN action not much better. Similar situations are continuing in this world so what do we do? Please help. We need a better way, but what if not military force?

Here’s the R:

This issue repeatedly moves from theoretical to practical – as it recently did in Libya. I firmly believe neighbors have a responsibility to act to protect innocent neighbors whenever possible and appropriate. But “possible and appropriate” introduce a lot of complexity and moral discernment.
The problem is intensified by the fact that today’s wars kill civilians (innocent people) more than ever before. So any intervention that is a war-in-disguise is deeply suspect. Trying to distinguish between protective police actions and aggressive military actions might help in some cases, but we have a lot of reasons to be suspicious when governments deploy guns and bombs.
What this suggests to me is that we need to think more about pre-emptive peacemaking that adheres to the principles of nonviolence: engaging more energetically in proactive reconciliation, so as to avert catastrophic conflicts before they become inevitable. If we are apathetic while situations deteriorate, or if we tolerate “ticking time bombs” of hatred and suspicion and take no action to defuse them, or if we sell weapons at a profit and then act surprised when they are used, we will find ourselves in moral valleys of the shadow of death where we are choosing, not between right and wrong, but between the lesser of evils.
This, I think, is what Jesus is addressing when he tells us in the sermon on the mount to be reconciled to our brother or sister before the whole issues is taken to court … where, he says, we will pay the last penny. He urges us not to use dehumanizing speech … knowing that dehumanizing speech leads to further dehumanization, which leads eventually to violence.
It’s like a person who drinks excessively for years and then laments having liver failure; the less we deal with alcohol addiction, the more we’ll have to deal with liver failure. All of us can be peacemakers, launching interventions for peace in pre-violent stages of conflict. In fact, we may discover some of those opportunities today if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.