The big question is how? Meaning how are we as a race and as individuals to respond to violence in a way that is both non-violent and preventative of further violence? This is probably the most difficult question in formulating any philosophy of compassion or love.
Let’s break my current answer into a few more manageable pieces:
As a race: This is by far the easier one, because general rules are much easier to formulate than ones which allow for individual differences. Humanity is a race, and if we were to respond collectively to all violence, my exhortation would be this: Love at all costs. The compassion we can generate as a species is more important than our race’s survival.
This does not mean mass suicide to save the rest of the planet from ourselves, for that misses the point: we are just as worthy of compassion as everything else. It does mean that we as a species need to love and heal as much as we can, even if such actions somehow result in the side effect of our extinction (and I very much doubt that such would result). I urge this because the alternative, survival without compassion and love, is as equally pointless as mass suicide, as also leads eventually to extinction. Better extinction with compassion than without. So as a race: Love hard. Heal whatever we can.
Is there a middle ground? Can we just love and have compassion a little bit? No. Compassion and love know no selectivity. To love and have compassion only a little is to withhold it from someone or something, and no person or thing anywhere is undeserving.
Even mosquitos? Well, maybe if we have enough compassion on the bats then the mosquito population will take care of itself.
As individuals: OK, so love hard. Heal whatever you can. But what about violence against you personally or against others around you? Compassion on yourself and others requires preventing such violence, and compassion on the perpetrators requires not using the same violence to prevent it.
Of course, a general rule such as “Use whatever nonviolent means possible to prevent violence, and when faced with either violence or death, choose whichever feels more truly compassionate” begs further questions, and is complicated by the manifold and varied beliefs people hold about death and/or the afterlife. Also,the phrase “whatever nonviolent means” is pretty vague and impractical.
One thing I do believe though: If love and compassion are practiced as habits, we as individuals will get to know them well enough that responding to violence can become a matter of intuition; we can let our habits take over, and see what actions they lead us to. I’ve been blessed to lead a life mostly free of any physical violence being imposed on me, which is by far the hardest type of violence to respond to, but I see all violence as symptoms of a larger hurt, a hurt we may never fully understand. And therefore, I see the solution to violence as the habit of desiring (and acting) to heal all hurts that we are able to, in whatever situation we find ourselves.
It may not answer all of the logical nooks and crannies that a well-formulated philosophy seems to demand, but why should love and compassion have to be logically formulated anyway? The important thing is to get into loving and compassionate habits before violence shows up. If you’re already facing violence, trust your intuition. I believe that all humans are, at their deepest level, loving and compassionate beings, and that we have access to these things with or without philosophy. Our deepest intuitions will lead us there. Love and compassion are already in you. All you have to do is use them.