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ONE of the definitions of violence is the use of power against others. The widespread instance of violence against others which we are witnessing daily is of deep concern to all of us. We live in a time when murder, suicide, executions, assassinations no longer shock or disturb; no longer do such things gain the attention that they once did. Not that there is anything new about such happenings. People have always acted that way. But this does not lessen our concern. Perhaps at no other time in history is the use of power against others so much the centre of our concern as it is today.
It is certainly reflected in the media. No educational system can compete effectively with the attractiveness of television, and it would be interesting to find out the number of hours many of our children watch television as compared with the number of hours they spend at school. This means that they witness violence and murder almost daily on television. And this is more dangerous than we think. Watching these incidents on television is more dangerous than we think. The danger is that many young people react on a subconscious level. Given a suitable environment they will act out what they see on the screen. They see people using violence as a tool to achieve power and profit. And this is just an illustration of Darwin’s notion of the survival of the fittest. In that context of survival, power becomes a tool in a person’s hand for achieving a particular goal. Tied in with that is the mistaken ideas that immediate satisfaction of our needs is what matters above everything. Our guiding principle is “Get what you want by whatever power you have”. This is the serious cancer eating away at what we believe to be important because of the value system of the society in which we live and the uncritical and unguarded way in which we absorb that system.
Good Friday is a reminder of how Jesus Christ channelled power into self-giving love. Christians see in this story the demonstration of a new way to live. The contemplation of the story of Good Friday should lead us to see that when we grasp power for ourselves and use it to gratify our selfish needs, we are really trying to play God, and that is a sure road to disaster. Jesus Christ did not renounce power but he channelled it into ways of promoting the common good.
The possession of power is not confined to those who hold influential positions or those who have guns and ammunition. No one is entirely without power. Each of us has to take full responsibility for the decisions and the actions of our lives and that means we are responsible for the consequences of our use of power. We all have the God-given power to right wrongs. We all have the God-given power to be agents of healing and reconciliation. I invite you to consider these things today.