Vonnegut nails it. There are far too many who call ourselves Christians that still live with Old Testament values. As Christians, we have been set free from the law of retribution. We live in the grace of a crucified and resurrected Christ.
The four Gospels in the New Testament are our fullest accounts of the words and teachings of Jesus. Nowhere in those four Gospels can you find Jesus blessing anger, hatred, malice, revenge or even justice. Instead, He lifts up, both by word and example, the values of love, caring, compassion, forgiveness, nonviolence and living in peace.
It’s far easier to seek revenge, to retaliate and resort to violence in response to wrongs. But, that is not what Jesus taught. It’s not Christian. As Vonnegut says, give me a break!
Vengeance, retribution and the need to return violence for violence are all born out of fear. Perfect love casts out fear. It’s just a shame more of us who claim to follow Jesus cannot live as He taught us. Our world would be a far better place.
Responding to violence with violence adds fuel to the flames and keeps the fire burning hotter. Revenge is satisfying, but as Gandhi wrote, “An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.”
My first thought when I saw these two quotes was that children are the great imitators. They learn by watching.
My second thought was the quote, “Actions speak louder than words.” We live in a society saturated with violence, both real and artificially created for our entertainment. Our children are not just exposed to this violence, they are submerged in it.
We glorify power and vengeance and then act surprised when our children imitate our values. Maybe when we come to the place where we stop giving lip service to the idea of peace and actually become peacemakers we will have children that live peaceably, as well.
Until then we need to accept the fact that our children are learning by watching us. We are the ones teaching our children that violence is not only acceptable but a good and natural way to live.