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What’s wrong with legalized violence?

The protection of lives, resources, territories and orders by force is not simply “the lesser evil,” but a terrible shame and crime. Among all the confirmations of this truth, these three stand out: power, impudence, and the denial of God.

1. Power. The vicious practices (such as slavery) resulting from power will be considered below. The drive for power, both at the individual and collective level, is a sign of a person’s and society’s backwardness; see The Feast of Obedience. And it is not important whether a person is at the giving or receiving end of this power.

  • From a materialistic point of view — in developed societies the vertical relationship of power is gradually replaced by horizontal interaction, based on equality of positions, dialogue and communication, with the organization of administrative and economic activities and security on a mutually accepted and voluntary basis;
  • From a spiritual point of view — there is no power except God’s. Yes, the apostle said “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” But this can’t be used to approve an abject submission to power — for example, when the authorities use their power to command you to do evil things. This along with other controversial parts of the Gospel are discussed in Christian FAQ.

2. Impudence. The security forces apply forms of violence to other people that, for the most part, they themselves have never experienced:

  • Officers and commanders in the police, the army, and secret services have not received serious gunshot or knife wounds that have torn or burnt the body, including muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and bones, from which it takes years and a great amount of effort to treat and recover, or — when recovery proves impossible — a life of pain and disability.
  • Judges, prosecutors, bailiffs, investigators, interrogators, etc., have not spent months and years behind bars. They have not experienced systematic bullying or torture via hunger, cold, isolation, beatings, lack of medical attention, etc.

3. Denial of God. Murder is taking away a life that you did not give and that you cannot restore, no matter how hard you try. Torture, torment, and maiming people, actions which lead to the loss of health or even death, have similar irreversible effects. But, as is known, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” Therefore, the crime is not only that you violate other people’s lives, but, first and foremost you violate God’s gifts and creation as well as His law, “Love one another.”  
Remaining reasons:
4. Laziness and indifference. The threat of violence and the use of retaliatory or preemptive violence is like the childish reasoning “I’m just doing what they do,” a classic answer of evil for evil: committing a symmetrical retaliatory crime against people’s lives and health. The mature person, striving for safety and public order, will study and methods of protection that do not shed blood; see Practice of Nonviolence: Methods and Approaches.

5. Unwillingness to consider the true nature of peace. People who have decided that protecting peace by force is their calling are more often ready to define “peace” on their own terms. The opinions of different people (including those who disagree) interest them less and less over time. Before too long they apply their own force-based understandings to their personal relationships with other people — family, friends, others ... but then also to the whole world around them.

6. The multiplication of evil. This results from misunderstanding the nature and consequences of using force. Violence may free you from immediate danger and threats, but, in the longer term, that same violence will provoke even greater anger, hatred and retaliation in those against whom it is directed. For each of your strengths, sooner or later there will inevitably be another, greater force:

  • more arrogant and unbalanced 
  • more prepared and motivated
  • more focused on “our own” (that is, their own)
  • etc.

7. Seduction. Once seduced, the security forces have much worse influence on society. Persons who legally commit violence convince others, by their example, that murdering others is normal, maiming them is normal, that rape is an inevitable part of life. The effect is to teach others not to take notice of obvious and terrible crimes against people’s lives.


If you are truly strong then you will find a genuinely peaceful pursuit for yourself, and you will protect others with kindness.

See also Nonviolence in Action: Methods and Approaches

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