Biblical active nonviolence is totally dependent on our view of Final Reality — that is, a harmonization of spiritual and physical realities.
The story in 2 Kings 6:8-23 demonstrates the integrated physical and spiritual worldview of the Prophet Elisha. His holistic perspective gave him confidence to resist using physical violence. He knew the forces operating in the integrated spiritual-physical reality.
Let’s read the whole story:
Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.”
So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.
This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
“None of us, my lord the king ,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
“Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.”
The report came back: “He is in Dothan.”
Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.”
Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.”
And he led them to Samaria.
After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.
When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”
“Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.”
So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master.
So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.
The struggles of many communities among the Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao call for holistic, just, and hope-full perspectives like that of Elisha. The ancestral domain of the Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines are rich in natural resources. Big multinational corporations want those minerals, gas, water and other natural riches and they have economic influence over our mostly corrupt government officials and legislators. Our legislators make laws in favor of the greedy corporations. The government executives implement those unjust laws and orders the police and military to enforce them.
The police and military have to follow orders to defend the republic and its laws, even if they are unjust and oppressive. Revolutionary armed forces rise up because of unjust and oppresive systems in our society and governance. Government police and military forces engage these revolutionary forces as part of their institutional purpose and duty. Armed conflicts happen and get perpetuated, and such skirmishes usually happen within the rich ancestral domains of the Indigenous Peoples. Civilians are affected, especially the Indigenous peoples living in those mineral-rich lands. The indigenous peoples are pushed out of their ancestral domains and are displaced.
As faith-based conflict transformation workers here in Mindanao, we continually remind ourselves that the everyday reality we experience is a harmonization of spiritual and physical realities. Our courage is based on a faith conviction that the Spirit of the Creator is the highest and the most powerful Spirit in this harmonized reality.
Like many of the Indigenous Peoples, our worldview includes the angelic spirits and heavenly powers. We know in our hearts that the spiritual forces that are righteous and just are more in quantity and more in quality of powers than the physical armed forces of this world. The spiritual energies that are positive, constructive, and inclusive are more powerful than the negative, destructive, and exclusive energies. The final reality in this cosmos is the reality of the Creator’s love, righteousness, justice, grace, mercy, and creativity.
We always remind our fellow community leaders and members that we must practice, by faith, to discern and experience the spiritual aspects of our reality. We continually ask God to open our spiritual eyes to experience the glorious and godly powers and spiritual capacities entrusted to us. In our prayers, we continually ask the Holy Spirit to allow us to discern and see the challenges before us through the eyes of Jesus — that is, through the character of Jesus described as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). As a community, we continually ask the Holy Spirit to fill us — that is, to inspire us, to breathe into us the character of Jesus: love, joy, peace, perseverance, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.
Because of our integrated physical-spiritual view of reality, we are able to let go of our enemies — by loving then unconditionally and by treating them as fellow human beings (Luke 6:27-31). This is the way of the Cross (Galatians 2:20). Love and compassion is peace.
What we need to do is to pursue the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks. We’re praying and advocating, with this physical-spiritual view of reality as our set of lenses, for the following:
- Join the global movement to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery.
- Work with various government and non-government organizations to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (here’s the PDF copy) to which the Philippine government is a signatory.
- Support the larger network of justice-and-peace coalition to stop the encroachment of mining corporations into Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral lands.
- Coordinate with various organizations advocating for Indigenous Peoples rights, climate justice and environmental protection to get both the state and non-state armed forces out of Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral lands.
- Recognize and respect the power of Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination in our partnership with them through inclusive development programs.