By Angela R. Samuel
This past Saturday, SCUPE staff member Angela R. Samuel attended the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton. Coming out of the services she journaled this reflection, which she has graciously let us post here.
As I reflect on the passing of young Hadiya Pendleton and pray for comfort for her family and friends, I can’t help but think about the man that pulled the trigger and committed this terrible tragedy. What was his inner dialogue saying to him, about him? Does he possess “Self Hate” and therefore hate others?
Dr. Martin Luther King says that:
“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of the spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What is so profound to me about this quote is the way in which King describes violence as an internal problem which can be embedded within our spirits and then transferred externally to cause us to harm others. Internal violence can cause us to lack compassion and moral imagination. So I ask myself the question, did this man lack the necessary moral resources needed to live a nonviolent life? Did this man hold on to internalized oppression, anger and hate?
So now I fully understand why Martin King preached and taught so urgently about non-violence. He wanted people to understand that non-violence requires compassion and yes morality. Does Compassion demand Morality?
Just like Martin King, Jesus wants us to practice Non-Violence:
The definition of non-violence is a practice of being harmless to self and others under every condition. Harmless of self is not only referring to physical harm but also spiritual harm.
At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love…I am reminded of the scripture….Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31). What this scripture is really saying is: imagine your life as your neighbor. Can you imagine yourself homeless? Can you imagine yourself with mental illness? Can you imagine yourself living in a marginalized community?
Non-violence is a commitment to respond to conflicts through understanding, love and true justice. Even as we remember Hadiya, we must also remember that we are called to love and have compassion for the misguided man who shot her.