06/25/2015 03:24 pm ET Updated Jun 24, 2016

Violence is Never the Answer

In the wake of the shooting at Charleston, South Carolina's Emanuel AME Church, and at the risk of sounding insensitive, I have to ask: when is violence the answer?

On June 15, just three days before the shooting in S.C., I was at a post office, shipping books to my readers. A fellow patron asked what my book was about, and I said, "It's about my personal journey trying to fix our government." My middle-aged female cohort replied, "Don't you think we're going to need a war for that to happen?"

War. There's that word again. Why did she say that it would require a war to straighten things out? I would have loved for someone to capture a photo of my face in response to her suggestion.

"No. Violence isn't going to solve this." I said. "There are so many other options before resorting to violence."

"Name one situation where violence solved anything," I thought. Use of force might be necessary to defend a position, but who goes out with guns a blazin' and comes back with a better situation? Name one.

Even the freedom fighters of our country waited until the first idiot shot a gun. You don't change peoples' minds by shooting their brother. You don't make friends by wearing battle garb. And you don't bury the hatchet by waving it around. None of the violence in the world corrects previous violence. It only makes things worse.

Now I know what you're thinking, pro-violence strategists. What about bombs that ended a war, or violence that kills people who "don't like us"? Is that violence, or is it self-defense? And are we on our own land or someone else's? Any act of violence has to begin with aggression. Or even passive aggression. The main determiner of violence is that the victim had done nothing to provoke or invite the perpetrator.

The woman at the P.O. had the same knee-jerk reaction I've encountered at an Occupy rally. If we needed violence to fix the government, who are we supposed to hurt? Congress? Are we going to war with our own people? Then who is getting killed and why? Someone explain who the teams are. Basically, you're explaining the rift that has been caused by our media and divisive parents. People don't become violent for no reason at all. They learn to hate from a consistent barrage of information that says "they are different than we are, therefore they must be eliminated." This is the basis of all hate: he is the "other." Kill! Kill!

Going back to the original question: When is violence the answer? What will it take in this country for our Congress to reflect our values? Will we have to rise up against Congress with guns before they vote the will of the people against the Trans Pacific Partnership, for example? What will it take for the will of the people to be carried out by our government regarding taxation of the billionaires, to bring money back into the economy from their hoarded reserves? And what will it take in this country before we prosecute those in the financial industry and banks who fomented the recession? On these issues, our government is held hostage by wealthy corporations and individuals. Are we going to "rise up" and kill them before we get our government straightened out?

I say no. There is a peaceful answer.