Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Cowardly Lion

People call me a coward because I'm a pacifist. It happened last night. At four o'clock in the morning, I awoke to students yelling outside my door. I won't go into details about the story, but at one point I was in the middle of nine students, three of which were heavily intoxicated, and the other six hate me because I get them in trouble on a regular basis. Two of the three were trying to pick a fight with each other, and the others were taking sides. There I was, all five-three, buck thirty of me, surrounded by nine drunk and angry college lacrosse players. I was mad, I was tired, and I was yelling at people much bigger and meaner than me for them to disperse. I was so angry and upset that my fists were clenched at my sides as I shouted "It is five o'clock in the morning and I don't give a sh** about this. Everyone goes to bed right now, or I write you all up for failure to comply." The whole time I wondered, what if someone hits me? What if they all hit me?

When people find out I'm a pacifist, they always ask me the same question. "If you were sleeping and someone broke into the house and tried to rape your wife, you mean you would just let him do it?" To be honest, I don't have an answer. The only response I have is: "Why did you ask me that horrible question?" I think about things like that all the time. I have dreams about being mugged and I have to sit there while some guy jabs a broken bottle into my stomach. It horrifies me. Watching my wife being raped is the most awful thing I can possibly imagine ever happening, and people force me to think about it happening on a regular basis. Maybe they ask because they are genuinely curious. Maybe they are intrigued by the anomaly that I am because of my beliefs. More than likely though, they think it will help me to stop being a pacifist. And frankly, it nearly works. Every time I think about it, I think "If being a pacifist means sacrificing my wife, then I don't want to be one." But there's the rub. I am not a pacifist because I want to be. I am a pacifist because I believe I have to be. I believe I have been commanded by God to be a pacifist. And I know how crazy that sounds.

I guess that's why it bugs me so much when people say things like the student last night who said "Go ahead, clench your fists! You're not going to hit me. You're a f****ing coward." Those are the times when I wonder if I have enough courage to remain a pacifist.

I'm not a pacifist out of choice, or some hippy free love morality. I'm a pacifist because I believe Jesus meant it when he said to love my enemies, and to turn to them my other cheek. I think he really meant it when he asked God to forgive the Roman soldiers who laughed as they nailed him to the cross and watched him die.

I guess I should ask, where's the coward in that?


Mom Elek said...

Joshua, when Abraham Lincoln finished the Gettysburg address, there was complete silence. He thought his message had confused or failed the people. The fact is, the truth and humility of his address filled their hearts. The only appropriate response was to walked away in deep conviction. Their souls and hearts were so profoundly impacted that no one could contribute any more words. The wisdom that Lincoln gave was was full.

It is likely your comments herein will find the same results. Your wisdom requires no further commentary. Your words humble and convict me.

Katie said...

josh i know for a fact that if something like that were to happen to your wife, your beliefs will be with you, but your caring nature would take over. you've done it for me. dont let people who are bigger than you think they are better than you, because just from how you reacted compared to how they were acting your the better and bigger man. i always say it takes a bigger and better man not to throw a punch.

Anonymous said...

Hi Josh -- Hope the wedding plans are progressing nicely. Looking forward to being there.

I'm no blogger, and I don't imagine that I ever could be (especially in the way that YOU are, in publicly discussing such deeply personal matters). But in the interest of discussion, I'll join in just this once...and since your posts seem to be dedicated to brutal honesty, I'll extend that same courtesy and follow suit...

It seems rather odd to me that you would (on April 19) go out of your way to invite your soon-to-be in-laws to read your blog...and then within two weeks ("The Cowardly Lion"), you would allow the hypothetical prospect of the rape of your soon-to-be wife (MY SISTER) to dominate a post (even if that wasn't the real point of the post).

There's a delicate balance, I think, between "challenging people to think about the things you think are important" on one hand, and good taste on the other.

Please don't take this personally, but I think my days of blog-reading are over. I'm a 21st century guy, but I guess some things may never make sense to me.

Talk to you soon,

Brother-in-law-to-be Dave

Joshua said...


I think your shock is appropriate. Maybe I should have been more delicate in this post. The intention was much less to draw attention to Rachel, and much more to draw attention to the dramatic arrogance with which pacifists are addressed. As a pacifist with pacifist friends, I know that many of us are forced to this same horrible question on a regular basis.

I agree, there is a line. I may have crossed that line. My apologies.

Christian said...

I imagine that anyone who does the job that you are doing is the antithesis of cowardly.