Life is a story.
Life is a story, and we are more than merely actors. We get a part in the writing, we get to actively work for happy endings. Every relationship, every conflict, every contact we experience through life is a storyline.
One of the best words in the English language is redemption. This idea of buying back, of making good, of righting a wrong – it is the heart of movies such as Shawshank Redemption and books like Les Miserables.
The most beautiful thing about nonviolence, then, is the fact that it always holds out hope for redemption. Because nonviolence never physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually views the “other” as an enemy or essentially evil, reconciliation is a constant possibility.
The saddest thing about violence is that it ends the possibility of redemption and reconciliation. The worst thing about murder is that it ends that “storyline,” that relationship, precluding the hope or chance of reconciliation. Violence says, “there is nothing you can say or do to ever reconcile yourself to me.” While morally arrogant, this popular philosophy of violence has permeated so many parts of our society, from wars to classrooms and international policies.
A border wall is the end of dialogue. A border wall, just like the walls in China and Berlin, Hadrian’s Wall and the Maginot Line, all send the same message – we are no longer willing to communicate. A wall is the end of communication, the end of attempts to reconcile different beliefs or lifestyles or philosophies. Walls are acts of violence in that they do not allow for redemption. Walls are irreconcilable because they divide peoples into two categories, when we are all so unimaginably different and yet so amazingly the same. Walls are a physical attempt to cease communications, but they never last because people can be redeemed, people can and do seek to be at peace with their neighbors, people will find ways to communicate and redeem themselves.
May we seek harmony instead of rigid security. May we hope for reconciliation rather than militarization on our borders. May we be more creative than walls, more optimistic than secure fences, more moral than muros, more human than high-walled divisions.
The story will go on, and I will be holding out the chance for redemption.