“Do you believe violence is always wrong?” Amy Jones asked Texas Buddha in the presence of her father as he packed for a hunting trip.
TB smiled at both Amy and her father, “I believe we should avoid harming other beings wherever possible. So I do not hunt, But I also recognize that life struggles against life. The cunning of the lion is born of the speed of the gazelle, and the grace of the gazelle is born of the mouth of the lion. Sometimes to feign innocence about this creates ever greater violence.”
Rev. Clovis Jones looked up from packing. “I remember when we were back at the University of Texas, you believed all violence is wrong.”
“Yes, I used to try to be completely nonviolent.” said TB. “I still try not to step on bugs and such, but when I lived in India, I saw villages harmed because they believed certain animals to be sacred and allowed those animals to carry disease into the community. I really wrestled with the issue of violence. Then one night I had a dream where I was working in a circus…”
Seeing Amy smile, TB said, “I know it’s crazy, but one day I was holding the rope for the tightrope walker. As the acrobat got midway across the rope, he suddenly he pulled out a gun and began to fire into the crowd. Like I say, it was a crazy dream, but there I was sitting there holding his rope in my dream and I realize if I let go I kill the tightrope walker; but, if I hold onto it, I am his accomplice in killing all those innocent people.”
“What did you do?” Amy asked curiously.
“Well, I woke up sweating, and I realized that sometimes there is no innocent place in the universe. At times if we do not stand with the oppressed, we have sided with the oppressor. I still try to minimize harm wherever I can, but I have also realized that violence can hide in any discrepancy of power. We are not innocent when we work within a system of oppression. If we are in an unfair hierarchy and think we are standing on the fence, we are usually standing on someone’s throat.”