(Warning: dark musings ahead.)
I dreamed the other night that I stabbed a woman to death.
In part, I blame the Walking Dead. Ben had been watching season two on DVD that night while I ran around the house doing odds and ends and I happened to catch a few glimpses. Every scene I witnessed contained horrific, graphic violence. (I do not approve of his watching that show, FYI. I don’t care how well-written it is. The violence is horrifying.) That alone filled my subconscious with dreadful images.
But the nightmare was also a consequence of some soul-searching I’d been doing that night. In response to the show, of course. I’d been meditating on what I would do if I ever found myself in some kind of nightmarish, violence-riddled world like that of the Walking Dead.
As someone who claims to be committed to radical non-violence, how would I really respond to threats of violence upon me and my family?
My meditations weren’t very optimistic. I felt like maybe I could surrender my own life if it were the only one at stake. But my daughter’s? Oh gosh. I can see myself killing someone if that person were threatening my daughter and I had the means. I don’t believe it would be the right thing to do, but I can see myself doing it. (What do I think would be the right thing to do? I’ll get to that.)
That night, as I slept, I saw a woman hiding behind an open door, and I knew she was intent on killing me. The next thing I knew, I was frantically stabbing at her chest and abdomen with a large chef’s knife until she fell. (I don’t know how I had the strength to penetrate her ribs with a kitchen knife . . . and there wasn’t any blood, either. Just terror and madness and self-preservation).
I felt horrible about myself as I awoke the next morning. I felt the nightmare painted a true picture of my soul.
The truth is: I don’t want to face violence with love. It seems too horrible. For me and my family, that is. I completely believe that that’s what Jesus calls us to do, and I completely believe that he is God and the only hope of good in this world.
But the thought of actually practicing it sickens me. Like, when I actually envision myself in such a situation. I feel certain that I would fail to live up to my deeply-held convictions. The self-preservation instinct is soooo strong.
I understand that violence doesn’t work and doesn’t solve problems. But goddammit, I don’t want to die, and I don’t want to see my daughter harmed.
The nightmare was like a taunt.
I know the real you, it said. And she isn’t nearly as courageous and peaceful as you’d love to think.
Of course, I have no idea how I would really respond in a life-threatening situation. And I don’t think the scenario likely, given my status and situation as a white, educated Canadian girl in rural Southern Ontario. (I’m very trusting. I’m the kind of person who leaves doors unlocked and goes for nighttime jogs by myself because I assume no one wishes me harm.)
What I hope and pray, though, is that the Holy Spirit would indwell me so thoroughly that she would guide me to do the right thing if something that dreadful were to befall me or my loved ones. (Yes, I referred to the Holy Spirit with a feminine pronoun. I started out with the masculine, but it just didn’t feel right. The Holy Spirit just feels feminine, you know? Please don’t be offended. I’m still talking about the Holy Spirit of the Bible, the Advocate Jesus promised).
I will openly confess that I don’t think I have that good a relationship with the Holy Spirit at this point in my life. I’m not surrendering my desires and daily choices to her wisdom. Sometimes, I’ll even block her out if I suspect she’ll hint that I ought to do something I don’t want to do.
The nightmare was a reminder of how much I need the Spirit inside me, pervading every aspect of my life. I need to foster that relationship so that I will do the right thing in a moment of crisis. (This is relevant in all areas of life, of course, and not just conflict with knife-wielding strangers).
Otherwise, I’m just a cowardly pacifist, spouting out high-minded ideals.
I’m so far from where I want to me.
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For further reading, check out this wonderful article: What Would You Do If Someone Attacked Your Family?
Image courtesy of VinothChandar.