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Nonviolence Playlets - compiled by Walter Wink - page 18 / 29





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provocation?  Is he insulting the legionnaire's strength?  Being kind?

Trying to get him disciplined for seeming to violate the rules of

impressment?  Will this civilian file a complaint?  Create trouble?

     From a situation of servile impressment, the oppressed have once

more seized the initiative.  They have taken back the power of choice.

They have thrown the soldier off balance by depriving him of the

predictability of his victim's response.  He has never dealt with such a

problem before.  Now he must make a decision for which nothing in his

previous experience has prepared him.  If he has enjoyed feeling

superior to the vanquished, he will not enjoy it today.  Imagine a Roman

infantryman pleading with a Jew to give back his pack!  The humor of

this scene may have escaped us, but it could scarcely have been lost on

Jesus' hearers, who must have been delighted at the prospect of thus

discomfiting their oppressors.

 Jesus does not encourage Jews to walk a second mile in order to build

up merit in heaven, or to be pious, or to kill the soldier with

kindness.  He is helping an oppressed people find a way to protest and

neutralize an onerous practice despised throughout the empire.  He is

not giving a nonpolitical message of spiritual world transcendence.  He

is formulating a worldly spirituality in which the people at the bottom

of society or under the thumb of imperial power learn to recover their


Script:  One person is the Roman soldier, the other is the captain

(centurion), and a third person is a peasant.  Need three cordless


Soldier comes across stage, holds out his pack to the Peasant:  “Here,

Peasant, carry my pack.”

Peasant: “Hey, man, I’ve got to get out to the vineyard, the grapes are

dropping off the vines.”

Soldier: “Come on, you know the rules; military law entitles us to force

you to carry our packs.  I’ll give it back to you after a full mile.”

Peasant takes pack, Soldier marches on ahead.  Peasant scurries to catch

up.  “Wow, this pack sure is heavy.  What have you got in here?  You an

amateur geologist?”

Soldier: “Shut up and carry my pack.”

Peasant: “Well, here’s the first mile marker.  Say, have you heard about

this guy Jesus?  They say he teaches people they oughta love their

enemies.  I don’t know how anybody could do that.  I mean, an enemy is

an enemy.  For instance, how am I supposed to love you?  You oughtn’t to

even be in our fair land.  You should be back at home where you belong.”

Soldier: “Aw shut up.”

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