A group of people began meeting at St. Gregory's Episcopal Church in May (2005) to discuss Jim Wallis's book "God's Politics". The discussion has led to at least two potentially useful efforts.
(source: Matthew White)
It is possible that, as Huston Smith argues, the next great accomplishments of humankind will be in getting along with each other. Certainly the Civil Rights movement and its aftermath have set the stage for transformational change. Now, after September 11, the New York Times reports that the "the entertainment industry has opted for restraint to avoid accusations of bias and the danger of offending audience sensibilities in an increasingly multiracial America". While mankind may have been more destructive in the past century than in any prior century, humankind also has risen to unprecedented acts of reconciliation. Events in the new South Africa and the apologies of the Pope are examples.
We have sometimes intervened. The Berlin airlift was a massively successful effort to protect people blockaded in 1948. But we have done very little to help the people of Darfur (Sudan), Rwanda, and the Congo in recent and current conflicts.
It seems clear that, thinking globally, some men will continue to wreak great hardship on others, and some others will turn their backs.
More than 16 percent of U.S. schoolchildren report having been bullied, according to a 2001 survey of nearly 16,000 students in grades 6 through 10 funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). An estimated quarter to a third of U.S. students are involved in bullying, either as a victim or perpetrator, according to Spivak.
Research has linked bullying with violent and criminal behavior later in life, as well as emotional, psychological and social problems. A federally funded study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reported in 2004 that bullies and their victims had more health problems and poorer emotional and social adjustment than their peers." (source, Washington Post, 8/23/05, Bully for Them)
A New York Times story (8/30/05, by Celia W. Dugger) reports that it is common in India that when you have a baby, in order to see or cuddle the baby, you must pay the attendant $12 if it is a boy or $7 if it is a girl. "The bitter experience of corruption is an everyday trial for millions of poor people across Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is being recognized as a major obstacle to economic development, robbing the impoverished of already measly incomes and corroding the public services they desperately need."
Dr. Barnet's pamphlet makes the case for "The Global War Against the Poor" in many other ways. (available from Carl House)
"Wise old Jung insists that it is good and salutory - even necessary for growth - to face one's shadow and to confront one's inner demons. No one is exempt. Who is without fears, neuroses, anxieties? There is darkness in all of us. Don't avoid your demons! Go through them. Bring them into the light and face them fairly and squarely. Only then will you be able to handle them.
The mystical life can be described as a journey into the depths of one's being, a journey to the true self and through the true self to God, who is the Center. Down, down I go through alternate layers of light and darkness, meeting all the slimy monsters and frightening demons that inhabit the subliminal world. And if I progress enough, I meet not only my own little monsters. I meet the monsters of the human race. I meet the root causes of war, oppression, torture, hunger, terrorism. I meet hatred, despair, injustice, atheism, darkness. I meet archetypical evil. I meet it in myself.... We are all responsible.
God is present in all these hurts. He is more present in darkness than in light. He is nearer in a time of desolation than in a time of consolation. Stay with the darkness. Go through it. Don't run away. And through all of this you will expand, making you more and more capable of receiving those sublime communications which come from the darkness of God." (from Christian Mysticism Today by Johnston)
I take this as an invitation to me to be part of the human family. I hope I'll overlook or forgive your shortcomings, and that with appropriate apology you'll overlook or forgive mine. As I've been contemplating this, I've imagined how in my lesser self I could be like Pat Robertson. Imagine that I work really hard. Imagine that I really believe in what I'm doing. My passion runs deep and it is for good purposes; and right now I a bit tired and I'm running on empty. I could well urge we take a shortcut that on more consideration I'd realize is not a good idea. So, however you hurt, however angry you are, even if your sin is dreadful, if you meet my better self you will meet someone who, with Grace, will be a healing presence for you. I need to be part of my human family; I need to experience God's presence. I am reminded: