The False Binary of the “Lesser of Two Evils”: Thoughts on Aggression, Passivity and the Third Way

I’m struggling with this talk of retaliatory strikes, brinkmanship and more violence. I can’t get the conflict out of my head. I can’t stop thinking about it, I can’t stop reading about it, I can’t stop praying.

Jesus was a pacifist. He chose peace, He lived peace, He initiated peace, He retaliated with peace. He, the Prince of Peace, He wasn’t just anti-war and anti-violence, He was pro-peace; because, pacifism isn’t the antithesis or absence of violence. It’s the presence of something else.

 And, that’s far too easy to say and so much harder to live, and choose and desire. That one concept, it changes everything. It changes everything about how I live, what I seek, who I am, and what I work for.

 Jesus. Is. Peace.

 And what does it look like to choose peace? When the violence of the dominant is reflected in the counter violence of the oppressed, what do we do then? Which violence do we react with? Which evil do we pick: the nothingness of passivity or the activeness of violence, they both lead to more blood. What do we choose?

And those are all of the wrong questions because

Jesus. Is. Peace.

He is the Third Way. He is not the violent power, the retaliation and defense or the silence of the crossed arms that do nothing. He ushers in peace with His presence, with His words, with His love. And when they threw stones at that woman, He stood in between the violent and the defenseless. He didn’t just sit on the sidelines, He didn’t just fight back. He was present. He brought peace. Peace is a person. Peace is a choice. Peace is the Way. It’s the third option.

And this is where the laughs begin. The snide remarks about idealistic Christianity start, the rolling eyes over a utopian world ensue, and most people would begin to tell me that the world I seek does not and cannot exist in the present. And that is where I’m convinced they’re wrong.

If a life dictated by peace cannot exist, cannot be practiced and cannot be lived, then I would fear that the life and work of Jesus Christ is rather meaningless to me. If it can’t even happen, what was the point? The Kingdom of God isn’t here, but its never going to be here until the people of God choose to live out Kingdom principles in the present. We have to choose heaven here if we want it to be here. We have to live it now and stop waiting for it tomorrow. If the work of Christ on the cross only brings us to the crossroads of having to choose the lesser of two evils, His work didn’t free us from much at all. 

When did Christians start trying to seek out ways to respond to violence? When did they start trying to classify themselves as “just defenders” or “humble pacifists” instead of simply responding to the words and works of Christ? When did they start trying to choose between the lesser of two evils and stop choosing the Third Way of heaven, the ways of love, the ways of peace and the ways of Jesus?

 And it’s impractical, I know. It’s impractical and unreasonable to not fight back. Its impractical and unreasonable to not call for violence when the whole world seems to be fighting, but the way of Christ is not the way of the world or the sword. The way of Christ is love.

 And so, how do we live now? How do we place sticks in the spokes of injustice? How do we actively stand in the way of the oppression, the injustice, the pain and the violence instead of passively doing nothing? How do we gently and intentionally use love to create ripples and waves of the Third Way instead of forcefully and violently using fear to perpetuate pain and chaos? How do we interrupt the status quo? We need new solutions. I’m tired of trying to solve problems with the same thought process that got us into them.

 How do we choose passivity and how do we choose action? How do we choose peace and how do we choose life? How do we choose heaven and how do we choose Jesus?

  Praying that the Lord would continue to reveal to us the peaceful ways of His love, His gentleness, His forgiveness, His justice, and His hope.

 Praying that we would learn from our mistakes and seek new solutions. That we would be innovators for new ways of peace and justice, and that He would teach us to shatter our false binary of the “lesser of two evils” and turn us toward the goodness and reality of His Kingdom. Praying that God’s people would begin to live out God’s ways here on Earth; that we would choose heaven here and now by how we act in the face of violence with gentleness, action, perseverance and compassion. Praying that He would give us wisdom in our ability to critically think and problem solve in ways that bring about lasting peace through enduring love, because we’re all looking for redemption. And redemption can be through violence, but it can also be through love. And the Father will always be the great Redeemer. Praying the Lord teaches us the ways of His redemptive love. Praying against violence and for the Presence of Peace. Praying for this nation, praying for our government, praying for Syria, praying or peace.

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 “Our truth is an ancient one; that love endures and overcomes; that hatred destroys; that what is obtained by love is retained, but what is obtained by hatred proves a burden.”- The Society of Friends

 Its time we interrupt the status quo of violence with a healthy dose of peace.

 We need it desperately. 

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