MUSING ON PEACE
January 21, 2020
To say that many people are in distress is an understatement. Many top officials of the United States Government reflect racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, sexist, and patriarchal views that they falsely base on religion in general and the so-called Judeo-Christian ethic in particular. They speak of a religious freedom that, oddly enough, restricts the religious freedom of the many. They ignore the plight of the poor and suffering. (Puerto Rico is a case in point.) Nothing is done to curb the legitimization of white supremacist groups as we suffer a rising tide of anti-Semitism and voter rights suppression. Over the past several years, the President, for example, has engaged in language that dehumanizes and objectifies other peoples, Nations, and concerned groups of citizens engaged in a host of important social and civic concerns. This situation must be confronted in ways both pointed and peaceful.
It is a serious mistake to imitate that which we abhor. We must not speak in the manner of those who engage in hate speech for the sake of political expediency and cultural dominance. We must speak in the manner we would desire others to speak to us. It is important to elevate the civic discourse by setting the example. We must realize anew that behind every conversation is a real person deserving of respect and understanding.
We must locate the peace in our hearts so we might share our peace even with those who might disagree with us.
If we have suffered dehumanization and objectification at the words and deeds of another, then we know first-hand how dangerous and destructive these behaviors are. We can learn from our painful experiences the wisdom necessary to transform aggression into an occasion of peace and understanding. Not a few spiritual traditions of humankind speak of “love of enemy.” We would do well to reflect on the wisdom and the challenge offered in such an insight. We might consider what it means to love an enemy, real or supposed? Such a reflection will put us in contact with the depth of our heart.
Our culture is driven by success in ways measurable and obvious. Is it not a successful moment when we love rather than hate? Is it not a profitable moment when we are patient in the midst of another’s anger? Have we not succeeded in being truly human when we are humane to the harsh and cruel. We must create a culture of peace in all the affairs of life.
I cannot prove this, but I believe it to be true, that no one has ever wasted their life if they seek to be compassionate amid heartbreak, cruelty, and despair.
Thank you for all the times you have blessed another and the World with your patience, love, understanding, and concern.
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
The Interfaith Peace Project