Tag Archives: Violence


How many times did David kill Goliath?

There’s a curious double killing in 1 Samuel 17:50-51.
50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.  51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

1 Samuel 17:50-51

At first this looks like clumsy editing (the ignorant refactor blunders again, in his obsessive need to keep sources he wrecks the narrative flow, once again – fortunately Altar and others have taught us to credit the reactor with a little more sense).

Instead, the careful reader is faced with a question – why did Goliath get killed twice?  Surely once is enough.  

There are a few theories.  The first is that the blow from the stone merely stunned Goliath, the second blow was the one that really killed him.  That seems to be the sense of verse 49.  The the first blow caused him to fall.  But verse 50 seems to stop us going down this route.  It’s there to say “no, that one stone was enough; that was all he needed to prevail, and by the way he didn’t need a sword.”  There is a whole anti-sword thing going on in this chapter – it’s most prominent in verse 38, where David refuses Saul’s sword.  The whole point of the chapter is that the world of armies, and kingly posturing, and armour isn’t going to work for Israel.  She’s already tried this with Saul and it’s not been going well.  If Israel wants to play the human power game, the game of militarism and weapon acquisition then it’s going to fail.  It will fail because it will always meet a Goliath, and it will fail because an over-reliance on technology creates an army of cowards, who don’t know how to trust in God because all they know is the power of technology.  There is a quote from a French General which I can’t source who I am sure said of the Americans during the Bosnian war (when the Americans could kill from a distance through their technology) “what kind of soldiers are these who no longer look upon the eyes of their enemy” (similar points are made here).

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Two Hundred Year Present

Borrows the idea from Elise Boulding that we live in a 200 year present (page 22) – easy to calculate if we think about the age of those who have influenced us, and the ages of those that we will influence in later life.

Structural History and Personal Biography are connected (page 23)

Turning points are moments pregnant with new life, which rise form what appear to be the barren grounds of destructive violence and relationship.  This unexpected new life makes possible the processes of constructive change in human affairs and constitutes the moral imagination, without which peacebuilding cannot be understood or practiced.  (page 29)

Violence is the behaviour of someone incapable if imagining other solutions to the problem at hand – from Vincenc Fisas (page 29)


Peace in Colombia

(From The Moral Imagination, page 14)


On a speech made in Columbia in 1987 by a campesino who had been summoned by a violent army captain who had summoned the people to a meeting to recruit them for his own arm, with the ultimatum “you can arm yourselves and join us, you can join the guerrillas, you can leave your homes or you can die”.  A middle aged campesio, Josue, spoke from the crowd and from his hear.  His speech that day was so memorable that up until today you will find peasants in La India who can recite his response to the captain word for word, even though they were not there…


You speak of forgiveness, but what do you have to forgive us?  You are the ones who have violated.  We have killed no one.  You want to give us millions in weapons paid for by the sate, yet you will not facilitate even the minimum credit for our farming needs.  There are millions for war but nothing for peace.  How many men in arms are there in Columbia?  By rough calculation, I would say at least 100,000, plus the police, plus 20,000 guerrillas, not to mention the paras, the drug lords and the private armies.  And what has all this served? What has it fixed?  Nothing.  In fact Colombia is in the worst violence ever.  We have arrived at the conclusion that weapons have not solved a thing and that there is not one reason to arm ourselves.  We need farm credits, tools, tractors, trucks to make this little agricultural effort we try to make produce better.  You as members of the National Army, instead of inciting us to kill each other should do your job according to the national constitution, that is you should defend the Colombian people.  Look at all these people you brought here.  We all know each other.  And who are You?  We know you are the head of the paramilitaries.  You brought people in our houses to accuse us, you lied, and you switched sides.  And now you, a side switcher, you want us to follow your violent example.  Captain, with all due respect, we do not plan to join your side, their side or any side.  And we are not leaving this place.  We are going to find our own solution.

In defence of defence

For the avoidance doubt, I instinctively pacifist (or 51% pacifist as George MacLeod put it) but I found Arundhati Roy in the Guardian striking:

“If you’re an adivasi[tribal Indian] living in a forest village and 800 CRP [Central Reserve Police] come and surround your village and start burning it, what are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to go on hunger strike? Can the hungry go on a hunger strike? Non-violence is a piece of theatre. You need an audience. What can you do when you have no audience? People have the right to resist annihilation.”