"Once we forget who we are and begin to act violently, we legitimize the hurt we do and systematize our wickedness. We keep working at this legitimization to defend our perceptions, our use of violence. With the systemic violence of society, we encourage one another to be violent with one another, to relate to each other violently.

"Like an alcoholic, we become addicted to violence. In societies and cultures of violence, where everyone is addicted to violence, the ultimate infliction of death on others — whether by gang murder, the mass murder of warfare or the legalized murder of capital punishment — becomes the standard way of proceeding. The abnormality of violence becomes normal. Our cultural and worldwide violence becomes a habit too ingrained to break. We are unable to become sober. In our addiction to violence and death, we are out of control. . . .

"We are so out of control we think we can go on for one thousand years with bigger and "better" weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile our culture and the world denies its addiction to violence, claims the arms race is over, and that disarmament is around the corner. The world insists it is sober but is still drunk on violence. Like the alcoholic, we are so addicted that we have lost all basis in reality. We think we can go on forever with our global violence. In our massive, global denial, we do not think we will die. In reality, the planet and the human race continue to stand at the brink of destruction. . . .

"As we participate in national addictions to violence, we adopt patriotic and nationalistic symbols and ideologies which separate us from our sisters and brothers around the globe. We get caught in an uncontrollable, unreflected spirit which divides the human family.

"We lose faith in God and no longer believe in the reality that we are all one human family. Or we invoke God's name in our wars against each other — as in the Persian Gulf War, where God was invoked by all sides to bless the bombings and killings. Once we find ourselves in such situations, we give into our despair and blindness. We fall further into despair, self-hatred, and violence against everyone. We lose sight of the vision of the global village, where all nations serve one another I peace and justice.

"As we lose our faith in the God of peace and love, we create idols to take God's place. We no longer see the face of God in the faces of our sisters and brothers; we do not feel the nonviolent spirit of God among us. Our addiction to violence so blinds us that we think that our weapons of violence are our only hope, our only security. They become "gods of metal," as a Maryknoll film puts it. Our guns, tanks, "smart" bombs, "peacekeeping missiles," and nuclear weapons become our gods, our idols. We trust those idols and they justify our forgetfulness. . . .

"All of us forget who we are at times and so we all commit violence. All of us have been raised in the human addiction to violence. The struggle of life is not to accept and legitimize our forgetfulness, our violence. Our task is to repent of violence, to resist it, and to transform it by doing good, loving others, and becoming people of nonviolence. The challenge before us is to topple the idols of violence, and to worship the living God of nonviolence."

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