Violence comes in many forms: it is ugly and awful. It is a sadness that permeates our society. We choose to be violent; we also choose to be non-violent. When we choose non-violence, we do so because of our love for all people, regardless of who or what they are. There is no space in our hearts for violence when we love.
Violence rears its head in many forms. It is not only an act of physical aggression; it is also an act of psychological attack, such as what is going on at our borders today. Violence against a family can be as horrific as separating mothers and children. This is not what God wants of us. Jesus preached that we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. The word must is much more emphatic than the words should or may be. Must is a commandment.
I have to agree that if we love God, if we love our families, we cannot close our love, or keep our love from people we do not know. If we open our hearts to the stranger, God will do the rest. Is this so hard to do? My wife often chastising me because I use terms of endearment to people I have just met, or a server who brings me my breakfast at our local diner. I respond by saying that God knows I mean nothing demeaning by calling her love, or him brother.
I admit that I am not always diligent in my relations with others; I also believe that we all share in this shortcoming. If I do not live as we are supposed to live, I cannot say that I am a true loving person. If my thoughts begin to revolve around my own pleasures and happiness, I may be excluding others. It is times like these that I do not have “a heart at leisure from itself.” It is times like these that I am ignoring God’s message to me and to all.
I try to be attentive to what God is asking me to be today; even though I am relatively weak to change national events, I can work to change our local position to be in alignment with what God wants from us.
Is it so difficult to love one another? Is it so difficult to respect the humanity of others? If our answers are yes, then we are not the God-loving people we profess to be. As I look back on my life, I recall that for the first thirty-five years, I neglected any participation in anything that reeked of racism; but I also did nothing to combat the racism I grew up with. My sister was an activist, marching in Washington to protest our country’s violation of human rights; she participated in the demonstrations in D. C. which included the march when MLK gave his I Have a Dream speech. I was proud of her, but I did not join in, maybe due to the fact that I was too involved in my serving and history with the Marines in the early to mid 60s.
Since then, I have been more active, but behind the scenes, non-violently. Presently, I work for social justice, banishment of the death penalty, and economic stability and equality for the less-fortunate members of our community. I also write long, factual letters to our congressmen. Being a former history teacher, I am able to include many historic trends.
I pray the what I now do is pleasing to God. All members of my family, all six billion of them, deserve God’s grace.