what if someone attacked your family?
October 8, 2011 § 10 Comments
Christian pacifists are constantly asked what we would do if a violent person attacked someone we loved. Of course, we have answers that never involve violence, but the other day I read across one such response that struck me as terribly eloquent:
“‘Well,’ says the objector, ‘I should like to know how you would manage matters if the ruffian should actually break into your house with settled intent to rob and murder. Would you shrink back like a coward and see your wife and children slaughtered before your eyes?’ I cannot tell you how I might act in such a dreadful emergency—how weak and frail I should prove. But I can tell you how I ought to act—how I should wish to act. If I am what I ought to be, I should be calm and unruffled by the alarm at my door. I should meet my wretched fellow-man with a spirit, an air, a salutation and a deportment so Christ-like, so little expected, so confounding, and so morally irresistible that in all probability his weapons of violence and death would fall harmless to his side. I would say, ‘Friend, why do you come here? Surely not to injure those who wish you nothing but good? This house is one of peace and friendship to all mankind. If you are cold, warm yourself at our fire; if hungry, refresh yourself at our table; if you are weary, sleep in our bed; if you are destitute, poor and needy, freely take of our goods. Come, let us be friends, that God may keep us all from evil and bless us with his protection.’ What would be the effect of such treatment as this? Would it not completely overcome the feelings of the invader, so as either to make him retreat inoffensively out of the house, or at least forbear all meditated violence? Would it not be incomparably safer than to rush to the shattered door, half distracted with alarm, grasping some deadly weapon and bearing it aloft, looking fiery with wrath and mad defiance at the enemy? How soon would follow the mortal encounter, and how extremely uncertain the outcome? The moment I appeared in such an attitude (just the thing expected), would not the ruffian’s coolness and well-trained muscular force be almost sure to seal the fate of my family and myself? But in acting the non-resistant part, should I not be likely, in nine cases out of ten, to escape with perfect safety?”
Adin Ballou, Non-Resistance in Relation to Human Governments