If you had the power to end all of the violence in the world with a single action, would you do it? I imagine that most of us would say that of course we would. No one wants violence, right? It is just an unfortunate deterrent that we must use to prevent greater violence from happening to us or those we care about. I mean, does the United States reeeaaaallly want a weapons arsenal with the capacity to kill every human being on the planet several times over? Of course not. We just have these weapons in case some other country develops the technology to the point that we have where they too can destroy all life on the planet and the only thing that can stop them is if we destroy all life on the planet first. Makes sense to me.
Sadly, I am being sarcastic. No it doesn’t makes sense. And yet, it is the mindset that we operate from and justify on a daily basis. And I’m not just talking about the obvious weapons manufacturers and warmongering people on the planet. I am talking about most of us. You see, the thing is that as long as we try to protect ourselves from getting hurt by hurting or being prepared to hurt others before they can hurt us, we are contributing to the same destructive impulse in our society as the people who do it openly. Don’t think so? Do you overreact to the little things in life that you really can’t control like the weather or how the restaurant prepared your meal? Well, if so, you are adding to that destructive impulse. Sounds too harsh? Well not any more harsh than Jesus who said if you hate a brother or sister then you are a murderer.
That’s not something that gets preached too much because it flies in the face of our own sense of righteousness. But really, what Jesus says makes a lot of sense. Not that very many people listen to him. He is, of course, an overly complicated character who says a lot of things that sound lovely in theory but are very impractical in what we call everyday life. “Love your enemies?” Ok. Whatever Jesus. Just chill on your cross and don’t make me look at myself until Ash Wednesday. I have important things to do like yell at my television.
See, I get why people don’t listen to Jesus. That crap is hard. It is a lot easier to just kill people emotionally or literally and then ask forgiveness. Or better yet, if you’re lucky enough to be in the right denomination, you can just do whatever you want to whoever you want to because you said the magic protection words. So who needs to actually do any of it?
The only thing I don’t get is how so many people say they follow him but seem to be walking in the complete opposite direction as he’s going. But I’m not supposed to judge right? See I told you it was hard.
So where was I? Oh yeah that’s right. Jesus couldn’t have been serious when he said all that stuff like, “What you do the least, you do to me.” Or how about when he was blessing the earthly losers. He was just joking, right? Or how about this? What about the time when, according to the Bible, he was surrendering to getting arrested. Then all of a sudden, Peter pulls out a sword and chops off the ear of the arresting officer. What does Jesus do? He rebukes Peter, heals the dude, and tells Peter, “If you live by the sword, you die by the sword.” Remember that Jesus. The one who before healing the officer’s ear said, “No more of this.”
I think the significance of him saying those words and then healing the ear of one of the officers who came to arrest him, even though he was as innocent as many of the unarmed minorities in modern times, was because he didn’t just want Peter to listen, he wanted the authorities—the supposed powers of this world—to listen as well. I can so easily see him say, “For Love’s sake, stop all of the madness. And if you don’t know what stopping looks like, watch me not defend myself and die rather than add one more ounce of energy to this seemingly justifiable destructive impulse. I’m done.”
Are you willing to stop in the name of Love?
I opened this rant by asking, “If you had the power to end all of the violence in the world with a single action, would you do it?” Now what if I told you that you have that power? What if I told you that if you could stop yourself from reacting and overreacting to the little situations that show up in your life that it actually had an effect on all of creation—that when you can still yourself and take a few deep breaths you create space for someone anywhere on the planet getting ready to do harm to themselves or others to pause and consider an act more life affirming? Well chances are that you might not believe me. Because how could that be? But don’t ask me. Ask someone wiser who taught that, “What you do to the least of these my children, you do to me.” Remember that he taught; that if we simply give someone a cup of water, in his name, we give it to him. He said this because he took Oneness seriously.
Everyday I find myself wondering if there is any hope for this world. I constantly see people in hyper reactivity unaware of what is motivating them. Someone cuts them off in traffic that morning and 10 hours later, totally unconscious of why they are so uptight, they are rejecting a bill that could change the lives of millions of people for the better. Someone was stood up at the prom 30 years ago and now they are cheating on their spouse, because they never had the chance to know what it was like to be the cool kid. A person was told they would never amount to anything when they were 5 and now they are overcharging renters on crappy apartments and firing their employees for minor infractions just so they can feel powerful. Somewhere a man is writing a blog post about stopping in the name of Love because he can’t think of any other hopeful thing to say after reading some disturbing news articles. Meanwhile he is on the edge of tears because he is concerned that no one really cares. He is beginning to look for some solace by wondering if we really are in a mechanistic wind up universe that is just ticking along until it stops and everything ends.
But then he thinks of Jesus and decides to give following him another shot tomorrow. Because if he had enough faith in the people who killed him to believe that they would one day see clearly and live the life that Christ knows is possible, then maybe this work in progress should to. And so, he stops. He meditates. He sees that the world that will be, already is. And all he has to do to see it is to stop in the name of Love.