When the news of Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapon attack on the people of Syria first came into focus, many of us in the United States, not knowing what to do with the rage and pain, called for a punitive counterattack. For a brief while it seemed inevitable, and everyone was bracing for the deployment. The idea proposed by President Obama was that our response be brief, forceful, and narrowly targeted. We would respond to Assad’s spray of violence with a laser of violence. The matter would remain within the bounds that we set and that would be that. But many of us feared that it wouldn’t exactly work out that way. Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. teach that it rarely does work out that way. Violence doesn’t like to sit neatly inside the lines we set for it. The color...

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