No matter where I’ve traveled for mission work, the common denominator was often this: rarely are problems resolved and truth revealed. People agree to disagree or worse yet, sit on resentment and anger which, from time to time, finds its way to the surface and disrupts the equilibrium of a people. Even worse, when it comes in contact with people who try to profit from the pain of others. The most stricken, a conflicted Pilate in the Gospel of John after getting nowhere with the Word, uttering, “What is truth?” as voices of mobs stand on one side and the politically charged religious figures on the other demanding to get rid of the “problem”. Even then, a resistance to truth and reality as it was and a settling for illusions, seeing things as they wish not as they are.
America is no different. I’m not convinced we’re capable of really digging deep to get to the heart of our pain and hurt as a people. It’s much more natural and ordinary to inflict it upon others. We see it in our streets on a daily basis, in constant unrest, and of course, yesterday as, We the People, stormed the Capitol of the country. We have no need for truth and the pain which comes with reality and when we don’t, we destroy anyone and anything in our path.
As I listened to the story unfold as I was driving from Baltimore, I didn’t know if I should be sad or angry or I suppose, both. I was surprised and yet not at all. It was coming and the pressure mounting as resentment and vengeance make their way to the surface and spill out into the population. I couldn’t see anything as I drove; I just simply listened and wanted to weep for a weakened humanity.
When I began to see the images of men and women climbing the walls of the Capitol, both exteriorly and interiorly, all I could see were people clinging for their lives as if on the Titanic, still believing they will be rescued, that their savior would be there to pull them up. I wondered why they were clinging so tightly, other than, one slip could mean the ending of their lives, falling to their fate with no one there to save. I was left wondering, “Did they think this act would be martyrdom?” “Did they believe they can save us from ourselves?” “Did they really believe this would accomplish something?” I’ll never know and the questions will fall into the category of unanswered which has only grown more at length the past several years. In the end it looked more like entitlement and a last gasp of a people who feel powerless.
What we often miss, as people, is how much we’re willing to surrender our power to others. It’s certainly easier to blame others when life doesn’t work out the way we want it to or give us permission to “grab” for power in any way we can. No matter who sits in the Oval Office, stands in the halls of Congress, or on the cathedra of a cathedral, we are given a deep sense of power and we either choose to embrace it and use it for the common good and the good of the world or we forfeit it to people we believe have an authority beyond us. They can tell us what to do and who to demonize. They can tell us the choices we make so we can sleep better at night. Little by little, though, we know ourselves less and less, resentment grows downward, hardening hearts, as what we thought our lives to be begin to become unrecognizable.
It’s not “their” fault, unfortunately. It’s yours.
I’m so reminded of Thoreau’s quote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” It’s what I see when I flip through images of men and women scurrying through the rotunda of the Capitol, desperate to cling to something. I see a people who believe they are unleashing their freedom and power, when in reality, are revealing to the onlookers, their own powerlessness, castrated from their own being. They go, grabbing whatever they could, smashing antiquity, and terrorizing those who believe have stolen their power.
It’s not their fault, alone, unfortunately. It’s yours.
When we have to prove our power, show our strength, and destroy, we are still boys trapped in the body of men, surrendering our power to an authority who is just as impotent of power. The only answer we can come up with, we need to rid ourselves of the “problem” while righteously wringing our bloody hands of having nothing to do with it.
So why can’t we, as Mitt Romney pointed out last night, tell the truth. Better yet, why do we refuse to hear the truth? There will always be “men”, and I use it loosely, who take advantage of the pain of others for their own aggrandizement. They can spot pain miles away and attack like a rabid dog, foaming at the mouth and ready to pounce. For them, they thrive in division while raising themselves up as saviors, chosen by the divine and speaking with such certainty. Yet, with any sense of awareness and consciousness, can be seen for what it really is, shallowness and a hollowed-out soul.
We stand now at a precipice, an inflection, a threshold between one and the other. We are, in some sense, Pilate ourselves, as noise tries to consume us from all corners. The price, our own humanity and the integrity of our souls, mine and yours. It has nothing to do with policy or culture wars. It has everything to do with our humanity and its current weakened state in the face of such predators.
We may be just as conflicted as Pilate asking what is truth or one caught up in the drama of mobs and self-righteousness. Who do we believe? What is truth? Why am I clinging so tightly? Who can I blame? Who am I, once again, going to surrender my power to rather than embracing it for the good?
It is, after all, the story of We the People, all of us. We need redemption and salvation but the path and journey towards it is a downward one, to the depths of our own pain and hurt. We the People have found ourselves violated and traumatized as we have at so many other points in our short history. It is, though, the path of truth and what is real. An avoidance and denial of pain only extends the drama all the more. The path of truth and the real, in order to be freed from the bowels of hell, is downward in order to be raised up. If it was good enough for Jesus, why not us? Why on earth would we believe we’re above such a journey?
Without it we will remain powerless at our own accord. There is great power in uncertainty and the unknown. It’s where we find truth and what is real. It is where we find the power we seek to grab as we cling to the walls of a failed belief.
It’s not their fault, alone, unfortunately. It’s yours.
Now, what are YOU going to do to change?
When you take responsibility for that question, you no longer need to blame and the movement towards One is possible.
There is our hope.