Fr. Richard Rohr, in the mission statement for the CENTER FOR ACTION AND CONTEMPLATION, shares the following:
“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Oppositional energy only creates more of the same.”
It’s all about energy, isn’t it? Physical exertion, emotional expenditure, spiritual contemplation – it all revolves about the issues that are present in our lives. Where we spend our time and energy determines who we are, what we advocate and ultimately the state of mind we enjoy in peace or endure in turmoil. Therefore, next time I am tempted to jump into the mud with the other mud wrestlers (or whatever else hangs out in the slime), perhaps I should remember the exhortation of Fr. Rohr.
…and they all chimed in, “Yeah, Larry, and we’re going to nominate you for sainthood.”
Y’all ought to know by now that I live by the principle of progress rather than perfection, that lofty ideals are meant to be pursued, not attained. It’s the journey, not the destination that constitutes a successful life. Striving for a world dedicated to non-violence begins in me with every action, thought and prayer offered to the cause of personal earthly peace – “oppositional energy only creates more of the same.”
That’s difficult to digest. Does it mean that I should not be concerned about the injustice and hypocrisy which permeates the world? Should I just throw my arms up in frustrated surrender over the racism and intolerance infecting American society? Should I sit in my quiet place with my beads and prayer shawl praying away the hatred and bigotry?
No, certainly not. I should continue to see with dismay the horrors of social injustice, I should continue to speak out against the racism in my neighborhood, I should continue to protest by whatever resources I have the denigration of brothers and sisters of another race or creed or nationality. But, I should not jump into the mud and lather up in my own hypocrisy, intolerance and bigotry. Justifying my disagreement and winning a victory over another’s viewpoints is not the goal of non-violence. Proving the insanity of national politics will not make ours a better country.
I refer often to the wisdom of the ancients. The thoughts, the words, and the sayings which have survived the test of time have done so because they are – wisdom. In my opinion (and yes, I have many) the one nugget of wisdom erringly ignored by religious leaders and politicians alike is lead by example.
What examples are we choosing to lead us and guide us through an extremely violent period of world history? Whom do we choose to inform us and thereby sway our opinions? To what and to whom do we listen? What do we read and view on media screens? Where are we expending physical, emotional and spiritual energy? Is it oppositional or is it conducive to understanding and peaceful solution?
Hillary (yeah, don’t allow the name to betray your religion) famously said in her campaign, “When he takes the low road, we take the high road.”
Doesn’t really matter whether she meant it or actually lived it. The advice is great wisdom. Let’s not get mired in the mud (or sewage) which poses as moral guidance or political leadership. Observe it, digest it, and then continue to follow the compass which points true north. Let our criticism of the bad be tempered by practice of the better.