The Origin of Violence


Genesis 3 brings to mind a man and woman standing naked in a garden, a serpent, and an apple. It’s amazing and tragic what resulted from this cosmic event in the history of humanity that is so easy to picture. This one conversation that led to a single act caused a downward spiral, a corruption of something within humanity, an infection that will play out over and over in the lives and stories that follow beginning with the very next chapter. The chapter ends with Adam and Eve (man and woman) being driven out of the Garden and the way back in being guarded so as to keep them from eating from the Tree of Life (if this seems overwhelmingly dismal, go ahead and read Revelation 22:1-5). The very next event recorded in Genesis after they are banished is this:

Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. -Genesis 4:1-2

As we read the story of Cain and Abel, we discover that the first act of violence was brother against brother. There is an illusion that in a world of over 7 billion people divided by nationality, ethnic group, geopolitical categories, and subcultures we must work to find common ground. History is replete with events that cause us to feel disconnected and unworthy to relate to another simply based upon species. All of the events I can think of that have resulted in this fragmentation are based upon fear, greed, and envy. These are things that cause us to grow bitter and eventually filled with hate. My simple and somber reflection today is that every act of violence ever committed (and we have plenty to reflect on this week and today) is an act against brother or sister. The way of peace is to reclaim that image that connects us all and identifies our species as “human,” the very image of God.

Are we our brother’s keeper? . . . yes . . . yes, we are.


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