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We Must Make the Peace

November 28th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

I want to say “no one with a brain can believe that life in the US in the Trump Presidency is going to be anything like business as usual.” I want to say that, but I won’t. Here’s why.
I doubt it would be possible to be more opposed to Donald Trump and what he stands for as a man or as a politician than I am. I find it literally impossible to understand how intelligent people can see a savior in him. Even a secular political savior. I find the mindset of the vocal Trump supporters, like the one depicted in this article, to be despicable. A spontaneous performance of profanity riddled bullying reminiscent of the man they look to for leadership.

But I attended mass this morning. Our parish has a very articulate associate pastor from somewhere in Africa (I’m embarrassed to say, I don’t know where). When you first start listening to him he is hard to understand, but when you get the rhythm of it you find that his insights on the scriptures are deep and enlightening. This morning he strayed from the topic of the readings, which, probably appropriately, concern the end of the world, and spoke directly to the heightened emotions still lingering from the election.

I personally have resolved to no longer engage in discussions about the electoral process. The election is over. We have done what we have done, and we will reap the harvest soon enough, whether it be bitter or sweet. But as political events unfold it becomes clear that someone is going to have to stand up for those who are set to lose, who have no one to speak for them. There are many. I see my task as not to argue but to stand up for justice. I feel that this has been the calling of my life. I hope to be able to follow in the footsteps of those who stood for the outcasts when it was not popular, even dangerous, to do so: Martin Luther King, Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And if I suffer their fate in the doing, that will be a life well lived, as far as I can see.

So that brings me to the topic of violence. My emotions call for violence to stop the atmospheric violence choking our nation. I’m not thinking about bombing anyone or shooting anyone or even really harming anyone in any particular way. But like watching popular TV in the end when the car chase and the shootout is over the good guys are the only ones still standing. And you feel good about that. Violence is OK if the good guys are using it.

But Fr. Ben says we have to lay down that thinking, and embrace each other as friends. He says Jesus promises us peace, but it is not a peace we can just sit around and wait for. We must make the peace.

Well, that’s a dilemma isn’t it? I must embrace that which repels me, with an attitude that violence must find offensive. It is difficult, but not impossible. 

Both Martin Luther King, Jr., and the man whose strategy King employed in the Civil Rights Movement, India’s Mohandas Gandhi, insisted that non-violent resistance required response to hate with love. Gandhi called it ahimsa, King agap. King elaborated on the nature of this love in an early speech: 

And this is what Jesus means, I think, in this very passage when he says, “Love your enemy.” And it’s significant that he does not say, “Like your enemy.” Like is a sentimental something, an affectionate something. There are a lot of people that I find it difficult to like. I don’t like what they do to me. I don’t like what they say about me and other people. I don’t like their attitudes. I don’t like some of the things they’re doing. I don’t like them. But Jesus says love them. And love is greater than like. Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all men, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape in your soul. And here you come to the point that you love the individual who does the evil deed, while hating the deed that the person does. This is what Jesus means when he says, “Love your enemy.” This is the way to do it. When the opportunity presents itself when you can defeat your enemy, you must not do it.

 To respond to hate with love, in my mind, is far more difficult than responding with hate and a desire for vengeance. One must offer one’s own well being, indeed, even one’s body, as an atoning sacrifice exposing and washing away the evil of hatred. Gandhi once remarked on the expected consequences of his campaign against apartheid in South Africa, “I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am willing to kill.”

 The way of love is more difficult than the way of hate. But it is the only way to peace.

Delta apologizes for not removing Trump supporter who went on rant

The man was filmed Tuesday ranting about Trump and Clinton supporters This was minutes into a Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta to Allentown Delta has apologized for not removing the man from the plane ‘Donald Trump is your President.

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