Sadly, it is a common scene: one sibling gets mad at another and wallops them. Tears pour forth accompanied with a scream for mom. That or some calculated retaliatory response. The wallop and the return volley are instinctual responses to frustration and anger unless the children are taught an alternative approach to conflict.

The scene of promise that we hope is coming is a parent stepping in with the admonishment "use words."    

As this scene unfolds, children "use words" that are calm; sentences that begin with "I" and end with owning their feelings. Anger, after all, is a shallow expression of a deeper emotion, a deeper root feeling: “I am hurt.  I feel afraid.  I feel unloved.  I must protect myself.” This learned behavior echoes the counsel of Pope Francis: "The politics of nonviolence have to begin in the home and then spread to the entire human family."

Yet, ironically, the words adults use today are more likely to be judgmental, not factual; replete with blame and avoiding ownership. Inflammatory, not conciliatory.  Anger becomes our way to inflict punishment and retribution on the wrong doer, conflicts are resolved with fists and stones, handguns and hand grenades.

We must change these responses. Peace in the world must start with peace in the heart of man and woman; we must reconcile the cleavage between faith and action. Everything is connected.

In his 2017 World Day of Peace Message, Pope Francis wrote, "we are called to be heralds of peace, proclaiming and embodying a nonviolent style, a style of peace, with words clearly different from the narrative of fear, and with gestures opposed to the rhetoric of hatred."

He also reminded us that "The Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) 'is rightly considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence.'" Decades earlier, Blessed Dorothy Day wrote that "yes, we must be meek, bear injustice, malice, rash judgment. We must turn the other cheek, give up our cloak, go a second mile."

Jesus Christ was the first non-violent revolutionary (sang Stephen Stills) and today, non-violence is a Catholic principle. Like all Catholic principles, it's meant for us to be a way of life. Pope Benedict observed that “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behavior but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone.’”

The famous maxim – if you want peace, work for justice – describes the "what." The path of active nonviolence is the "how," the way of peace. Jesus was about peace, which requires a just world, and reconciliation with God and neighbors. Might not this peace Jesus gifted us, which allows us to forgive one another and forgo enmity, might not that be a preferable alternative to anger and violence?

On October 2, the International Day of Nonviolence let us live the words of Blessed Dorothy Day: love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up.

Cato is director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace for the Archdiocese of Portland. Fr. Libra, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish, is director of pro-life activities in the archdiocese.