Recently I posted about mercy for the mess in Fergeson. Now there has been an explosion of outrage about another verdict that is being interpreted in a racial prism in New York. Again there is another hotbed about the history of racism. The social sciences are in full bloom with critical theory which focuses on marginalized peoples being oppressed by the haves over the have nots by gender, race and class. And then come the slogans to supposedly make discord simpler. Making peace. Burying the hatchet. Settling differences.
As a social worker I have been trained and placed for situations where two parties are connected but lacking understanding and respect for each other. Such traits give way to aggressiveness which is all about violating the boundaries of the other to get ones power back from someone that robbed them.
The world uses force to solve problems. Person to person or nation to nation going to war of words, arms or both. In a nation that has different races or ethnicity that are in a never-ending cycle of blame and unforgivness, force by riot or capricious application of civil authorities seems to go the default path of least resistance when it is all one knows.
But an alternative would come down to understanding others, respecting them and a proper understanding of what power is supposed to be within ones self.
The saying of “being quick to listen and slow to speak” is both simple and true. If someone is letting their own adrenalin from frustration do the thinking for them then they will only struggle and at best bring the other person down with them. A common poverty in humanity is not being heard and by not listening to the person you disagree with you are contributing to this poverty.
As for the respect I speak of, a custom in monasteries applies for this. If a brother brings a word or correction to you then you wait 24 hours before making the response. The catch is that in those 24 hours you take to heart what was said, pray about it and resist the temptation to give them the “royal comeback”. Is there a way I missed out on the needs of the other? What is their story? How can I communicate with them better? How can I bless them? “Love your enemies” seems to the common thinking to be too tall an order. But how enriched are we really by doing the opposite?
But what a definition of power? There are three as I see it.. One is in an over dependence on others’ opinions or compliments. Even when someone is open to that they will get filled and shortly after be hungry for more.
A second one is feeling a sense of esteem at the expense of others esteem or dignity. This is pride and when one steals from the dignity of others it is never enough.
But the third is having a sense of being fully integrated into living a consistent life with how you were created to be. But even at a subconscious level for an atheist, this only happens if they are in touch at least with natural law. Divine moral law would be better.
But in this dysfunctional world, there is too much of the first two and not enough of the third. What would it look like to see peace break out instead of war by the influence of true peace? This peace would need to be sustainable and respect the dignity of persons and large groups of people.
This thunderbolt of grace for the world is spoken of with the saying “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
I would next address the Christ followers and the Christ inquirers out there. Make no secular mistake by watering down “blessed” and “children of God”. This world could use a bit more family/community and a bit more blessing. A humanist attempt at this works only so long until true genuineness and accountability breaks down.
If one were to be open minded that peacemaking best is shown through Christianity as it was first intended, then it is worth considering that not long before the peacemakers comment Jesus said this it was spoken from above, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. If you want to say that you are walking out a life that is consistent with being a child of Light, then take God’s perspective and look for the mark of the Father’s love in your greatest enemy. If “grace and truth were realized in Jesus Christ” (John 1:17) then let Him be realized in you and through you when the ugliness of conflict happens by the contemplative nature of prayer. That means being so caught up in the divine grace that your heart has a an inspired teflon on it so the drama of politics, racism, class warfare (from both sides) do not stick.
So what does the transformed peacemaker do in sharing implicitly or explicitly the gospel of peace? First, it is above all the opinion of God for your life that matters. Second is that have an immeasurable debt to love one another. Third, is that what we say or do is best applied upward to reflect back to a loving God an awe and appreciation for every breath. As I am writing this approaching Christmas, I think that this attitude fleshes out “peace on earth and good will toward men.”
And from that is the beauty of the overflow that makes peace which will last, be authentic and respect the dignity of the person as they are and not where they “ought to be at by now”. We testify to these truths by our lives like it is alleged Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times. If needed say words”. This is where the haters, the skeptics and the confused who live outside of peace will see a good context of religion in their lives that even the most nonreligious will respect. It truly is “give peace a chance”. But it is giving it the right way. What is stopping us?
Last I leave the reader a link to the movie Grand Canyon. I wish I could find the perfect clip that fits what I am talking about. It involves some negative stereotypes of a racial minority. I apologize if that offends anyone. But it also involves someone who is a racial minority doing the right thing. Also the audio is not good so listen keenly. Oh, and with your ears as well.