(I wrote this a couple of weeks ago before I heard about a boy being savagely beaten by three other boys on a school bus.  Now it takes on a different tone.  Still I wanted to start unfolding this for myself.)

The following isn’t a treatise.  It’s a gut-check reaction.  (and probably not that well thought out)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.–Matthew 5:9


One day, you notice someone in the neighbourhood.  They are getting beaten up pretty badly by someone else.  What do you do?  If you intervene, you might save them from the beating.  That action keeps them around for another day.  But, you don’t prepare them in case they are in the same situation in the future.  What could you do then?  Remove them from the situation completely?  Teach them to defend themselves?

Most of us would not be sure what to do.  We’d call the authorities.  We’d try to ignore it or look away.  We’d secretly hope that we wouldn’t have to get involved at all.  We would try to deflect our responsibility to someone else.  It’s difficult to enter into a situation where we don’t know what will be required of us.  And, if it might involve our own suffering, it’s even more difficult to voluntarily join.  We often become spectators and watch things unfold.

Even the most compassionate hearts can be paralysed by situations where someone is being oppressed.

However, in a community, we learn that the greater well-being is dependent upon the individuals within it to be protected from such things.  That value has been eroded in society quite a bit over the years.  However, there were times in history where community was a much stronger force in the world.  Community imparted a value that everyone was tied together, and as such, what happens to the one being beaten up affects me.

So, back to our dilemma.  If we enter into the situation, we have to recognise that from that point we are included in the outcome of the conflict.  Whatever we decide to do, as soon as we affect change on the people we become a piece in the equation.  No longer is it two people fighting, it’s three, and everyone has an agenda.  Whether or not we agree with that assessment, it is essentially true.  Even if we don’t “pick a side” in the conflict, if we assist either side, we become an ally of theirs.  Theoretically, if we don’t choose a side then we by default become an ally of the conflict itself.

So, what if we help the weaker side not only defend itself, but equip them to be able to overcome the other entirely?  That would end the conflict with the one who was losing actually winning.  Although, I think that in any conflict like that, there rarely is a winner.  Perhaps being victorious is a better way to it.  Is this an appropriate way to end this?  A part of me believes that unless we can turn back time to the point before the conflict and fight started, no one can really come up with a satisfactory resolution.  Creating an environment where the one being beaten then gets revenge by beating the other senseless doesn’t sound like an appropriate response, does it?

So if in our rush to help out the one who is being overwhelmed, we find out that we’ve tipped the scales to the other side.  So now the thirst for vengeance has flipped the balance of power.  Do we now provide assistance to the other person?  By getting into this, aren’t we responsible, for better or worse, for the outcome?

What is right?  Do we equip them so they both can beat themselves silly on an even playing field then?  If one picks up a stick and starts beating the other, what do we do then?  Give the other a stick?  Do we give the other something more sophisticated like a knife?  A gun?  Or do we make it completely balanced? Many people would probably lean towards this last concept, If they agreed at all.


But, what if the above is only a metaphor?  What if extend the concept out to evaluate the difficulty in deciding what is right to situations that all of us observe or deal with in life?