This week and weekend have been about hate. Hate has only one outcome; death.
Heather Hyer (pictured) was the woman who was killed when a white nationalist drove his car into a group of counter protestors at the Charlottesville, Virginia rally yesterday sponsored by hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo Nazi, and other terrorists organizations. Their hatred fueled the rally and the result was death for Heather and two police officers who died in a helicopter accident.
I don’t understand the hate. I grew up in the south, had a few black friends, but do not recall overt acts of racism. However, I did hear jokes, phrases, insulting words pointed at those who were not white. I didn’t understand what I do now that this is where hatred starts. Words are powerful. They have a way of lodging themselves in our minds and shaping us from the inside out. No one is born hating another. It takes family, friends, co-workers, and others speaking vile, evil, and vicious judgments it poisons our spirits, contaminates our brains and spews out of us like projectile vomit infecting everything we touch.
Hate makes me and others uncomfortable. It’s easier not to engage, to turn our backs, hope it goes away. Unfortunately, this isn’t what happens. Hate grows and spreads. Like minded people come together and depend on most folks looking the other way. Ignorance is a weapon used by people of ill will to gain power. If we aren’t careful, if we don’t call hate what it is it will win and we will be forced to choose hatred or death.
The last several days have been tense! Words of threats, warnings, retaliations, and war are being thrown back and forth between leaders of nations who are acting like petulant children. It worries me but angers me more. Both men seem to think it’s a game and forget the millions of lives which would be impacted, endangered, and ended if this fiasco goes further.
I wonder how leaders can become so distant from the people they represent? It isn’t just dictators and presidents but people in businesses, families, churches, and organizations in all shapes and sizes. The penetration of power into our spirits seem to corrupt whoever tries to yield it. It is why all wisdom leaders flee from power over people. They understand the grip and the destruction which can be wrought by good men turned and twisted by power and its propensity for evil.
I hope one of the two “leaders” will take a step back and take a deep breath. I pray they think of the people and not their egos. I want to see humility, not hubris. I’d like to be surprised by one of these men showing wisdom.
A friend of mine had surgery not too long ago and is still recovering. As a result, he is unable to do yard work or any other outdoor project. One of the projects on his list for the summer was to remove several Red Tip bushes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photinia). Red Tips are great for privacy but can quickly grow out of control. Before his recent bout with the illness, he had started the removal but couldn’t finish the job. However, while he was in the hospital a group of neighbors got together and completed the project for him. They didn’t expect to get paid or rewarded in another way they did it because it was a way to help.
As I listened to the story being told to me yesterday my heart was warmed at the generosity we can show each other. A person told me recently; “The news is too depressing. I just don’t watch it.” I tried explaining that ignoring the news doesn’t make the world better but it does eliminate our ability to confront, counter the evil and darkness with good and light.
What You See, Hear, Say –
“When brethren return from a journey, at the end of each canonical Hour of the Work of God on the day they return, let them lie prostrate on the floor of the oratory and beg the prayers of all on account of any faults that may have surprised them on the road, through the seeing or hearing of something evil, or through idle talk. And let no one presume to tell another whatever he may have seen or heard outside of the monastery because this causes very great harm.” #RuleofSaintBenedict
As a Benedictine Oblate (http://www.osb.org/obl/intro.html), one of the disciplines we are asked to employ is reading the “Rule of Saint Benedict” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_Saint_Benedict) each day and apply it’s principles to our twenty-first-century lives. The sections which deal with simplicity, humility, poverty of spirit and servanthood are ready-made for our loud, brash, celebrity and money/possessions obsessed culture. The other sections which deal with life inside of a monastery can be more difficult to figure out how to envelop into the life of a middle-aged man living in Columbia, Tennessee.
The section of the “Rule” above is from Chapter 67. I have reflected upon it much of the day, especially the part of laying on the floor during prayer times at the monastery and “begging” the brothers to pray for them after their journeys outside of the cloistered community. It says the reason for this is; in case the monk “sees or hears something evil” or participates in “idle talk.”
Most days I go throughout my day and don’t recognize evil. I see a lot of hurting people struggling to get by, battling for a better life but my focus is on them, not the evil that might beset them. I wonder if we miss, have become used to, been contaminated by, the workings of evil in our world. We are blinded by the trees to the forest.
I also was intrigued by the admonition of the returning brothers not to tell others about life outside of the monastery and that this could cause; “great harm.” When people take trips, vacations they come back with lots of pictures and stories. For Saint Benedict, would this be acceptable? Doesn’t seem like it. However, I believe the Rule is going deeper.
In our twenty-first-century world, “idle talk” is everywhere! Social media, television, radio, internet, are all filled with gossip, insults, hear-say. Everything everyone sees is posted online usually with a snarky or judgemental comment. I am in full agreement with Saint Benedict that this environment does cause great harm.
Anyway, that’s what’s been on my heart today as I’ve traveled. At the risk of violating the “Rule,” I won’t tell you where I went or what I did. 🙂
I have a few mottos for my life. One of them is; “It doesn’t take a lot of gas to drive me crazy.” Usually I find myself saying that after something, or someone, is on the verge of driving me crazy! The older I get the more convinced I am that it takes a special kind of insanity to stay sane.
I believe we can make a difference during our short time on this planet. With our limited power, finances, influence, gifts, abilities, convictions and purpose. We can change lives and when you change lives you change everything.
This is crazy thinking. It’s lunacy to believe our brief light on this dingy blue rock called; “Earth” can beat back darkness, pain, and hopelessness. It doesn’t make much sense to imagine a world, made better, by what and who we are, what we do and say, when we are so weak and frail.
Corruption, crime, wrongdoing, immorality and evil are just too much, too big, too powerful. Look around and see this is factual, true, without question. However, foolish ones never trust only their eyes or their minds. They listen to their spirits, they dare to believe that the perceived power of the villainous systems and structures is an illusion. We hold fast to the belief that a slightly “off kilter” person, doing all they can, when they can, could change their small part of the world and if enough nonsensical, impractical saints believe this; no power on Earth can stand against them.