I came across a thing I’d never seen before, called the vow of nonviolence.  Many make it year after year after year, which is the point, I think. (See the original here and the blog where I stumbled upon it here.)  I’ve included the vow itself below:

“Recognizing the violence in my own heart, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow for one year to practice the nonviolence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount:

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God…You have learned how it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy’; but I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way, you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.’

Before God the Creator and the Sanctifying Spirit, I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus

  • by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
  • by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it;
  • by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
  • by persevering in nonviolence of tongue and heart;
  • by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
  • by actively resisting evil and working nonviolently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.

God, I trust in Your sustaining love and believe that just as You gave me the grace and desire to offer this, so You will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.”

I’ve been talking this over with a friend, and I’ve realized that my reasons to not make the vow are merely excuses.  These are principles I believe in, so why not practice living them?  It is not that this is a be all and end all; but it is a guide that can help remind me of some good principles I desire to live out.  And unless I start practicing living a nonviolent lifestyle, it will never happen.

My biggest struggles aren’t with the things that might come immediately to mind: physical violence is not a temptation for me.  But I am violent with my words, and I definitely don’t live a lifestyle that helps to end violence or evil.

So this is my vow, for the next year, for the rest of my life. I’m sure it will expand and grow and adjust as time goes on. But this is a great jumping off point in my opinion.