The Art of Nonviolence

Boy, how wrong was I to think violence was the way.  How prideful, fearful, selfish and just plain weak to think that any type of violence was the answer.

It has taken me much prayer, study, reflection and thought to come to the statement above and it is now my intent to help others that may take to violence often in thought or in action as an answer.

Let me explain what I mean.

I grew up being taught how to defend myself if anyone were to try to harm me. My father was a 3rd-degree black belt in JuJitsu, so I was trained by the best.  I used to watch him practice in our backyard. I also volunteered to be the one being practiced on. I thought it was cool learning the different throws, arm bars, and counters to many attacks that one may have if they were faced with an attack from another person.

I also grew up watching martial arts movies, war movies and other action movies that included violence. So it is very natural that I would think that learning violence is the answer to my security and self-confidence. I believed that if I learned how to defend myself using many different types of defense mechanisms, such as num chucks, knives, guns, hand to hand combat. studying war tactics, and even raising my voice to intimidate the other person that I would be a hero, a winner, a person of influence or someone others could look up to.

At 21 years old I joined the Marine Corps to learn how to be a fighting machine. I wanted to have the right to wear the dress blue uniform and earn the right to be called a United States Marine. Surely, people would respect me and think of me as a man of courage now. After learning from one of the most fierce fighting forces on earth I can tell you that my lack of confidence still existed. I did not feel like a man of power as I thought I would.

 Fear still controlled my mind.

Fear still controlled me.

After serving two tours in Iraq and seeing the effects of some of the most horrific violence, I brought home those images in my mind. I swore that I would never let anyone ever hurt my family, so I bought guns, ammo, and more guns. I slept with a 9mm under my pillow and a AR-15 within arms reach. I also had shotguns spread throughout the house in key locations, just in case I happened to be away from my bedroom.

One day my daughter and I were headed to the Tattoo shop so I could get a new tattoo. I already had several. As we were driving along, my daughter asked me why I wanted to get tattoos. I told her that they looked tough to me and they also were a sign of strength. She looked at me with the most honest response I have ever heard and said,” tattoos are for the weak!”  I said, “what do you mean baby?” She then went into telling me how real strong people don’t need tattoos to be tough. That was a very humbling and life changing moment for me because deep down in my gut I knew that she was exactly right.

The tattoo’s, the self-defense training, the guns, knives, the need to have power were all rooted and tied together. And in this moment my 8-year-old little girl just untied them all in an instant.

As weeks went by, I pondered that statement. I also read several books that had a similar message as the one she made. I had read them before but until now, it never hit me like it was now.  I came to the conclusion that Jesus was a believer in non-violence as well.

Think about it; The root of sin is Pride and violence births from Pride. If Jesus came to this earth to defeat SIN or you can call it Pride, then that would make him a believer of nonviolence.

Okay, now after  I came to that conclusion I then continued to find this way of thinking in many other books.

While I was reading a particular book called, The Words of Gandhi, I was woken up by several quotes that he had made years ago about nonviolence. These quotes would confirm this new journey of nonviolent thinking. Allow me share them with you.

Quote 1:

I can imagine a full armored man to be at heart a coward, Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice. But true nonviolence is an impossibility without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness. ~ Gandhi 

Quote 2:

Nonviolence should never be used as a shield for the cowardice. It is a weapon for the brave. 

Quote 3:

It is not nonviolence when we merely love those that love us. It is only nonviolence when we love those that hate us. I know how difficult it is to follow the grand law of love. But aren’t all great and powerful things difficult to do. Love of the hater is the most difficult of all. But by the grace of God the most difficult thing becomes easy to accomplish if we want to do it. 

Quote 4:

He started with being my most bitter and critical opponent and today he is my warmest friend. 

Quote 5:

Nonviolence implies voluntary submission to the penalty for non-cooperation with evil. 

 I hope you enjoyed these quotes as I do. 

After taking on this way of thinking I can honestly say that I do not fear anyone or anything anymore. I do not sleep with a gun ready at a moments notice. I do not even carry it with me when I travel like I used to.  I have peace.

I have no desire to get tattoos anymore because I know that that is not where my strength, courage or self-confidence comes from.

I do not raise my voice or even argue with anyone because my goal is not to intimidate or win and argument. My goal is now to love others and make everyone feel important. I want to change my opponents mind with humility and respect for their perspective.

I encourage you to join me on this journey of nonviolence. I think that you will find as I have that peace, joy, and love is at the root of it.


Have a blessed day!














12 responses to “The Art of Nonviolence

  1. This was an intense read. With first hand experience in Iraq you know how difficult it can be. If you don’t mind me adding you were maybe going through Post Traumatic Stress. It’s common when you’ve been through so much. I love how your story was changed by your 8 year old’s words. Me and a friend are actually trying to do similar. By making people vote and choose between peace and war. In hopes that by choosing peace on the poll we might stop and think about it.

  2. Great post Derek. Certainly can relate to all you so well state. Its amazing how in an instant we realize things that have slowly gained control of us then we endeavor to rid ourselves of them. Love how your daughter was the catalyst to you changing.

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