A slight, almost imperceptible call has persisted throughout the ages. This call-to gravitate toward the light of nonviolence- has been heard and heeded by a long list of now-heroes who offered their lives as a sacrifice in hope it would make a difference. Reading accounts of these visionaries in conjunction with a new book on the history of violence and humanity, the call becomes more than a nice suggestion; it is an urgent plea for humanity to come to its senses.
In his profound Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads, Gil Bailie makes accessible to the average reader the work of Rene Girard, a cultural theorist and author of Violence and the Sacred. Mixing contemporary news accounts, modern literature and mythology, and biblical stories, Bailie makes a strong case that humanity is indeed at a crossroads, between choosing love and nonviolence or slipping into "apocalyptic violence."
At a time when unspeakable acts of violence are committed in such places as Rwanda and Bosnia, we throw up our hands in despair. Even united in the understanding that the situations are unjust, we are largely unwilling to shed blood to make things right. Isolationism and memories of a war lost in Vietnam contribute to our inertia, but the realization, however slight, that violent restoration of order is only temporary and may ultimately cause more problems is another factor. As the ability of the culture of violence to legitimate itself decreases and the sense of order it provides disappears, we witness desperation leading to uncontrolled, brutal attempts to re-establish order through force.