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“Turn To, Not Against Each Other”


lorettalynchU.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch:
“I ask you to turn to each other, not against each other.”

“Shoot first. Ask questions later.”
“The best defense is a good offense.”

These seem to be the mantras of our time. Waking as we do each morning to a new shooting in our country or bombing in our world, accompanied by sights and sounds of shots and explosions, shouting and screaming, followed by the heart-rending wailing of the grieving, gives new impetus to the cry:

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Decades ago, I read of a study revealing that U.S. soldiers grew increasingly willing to fire their weapons from WW I to WW II to Vietnam. I would not be surprised if this same “progression” could be documented in the civilian populace, including the police and the communities they serve.

Most of us only shoot our mouths off, but the principle is the same. And it is multiplied exponentially through social media, where the snarky comment is common, where anger, paranoia, prejudice, and scapegoating present themselves as truth.

However we pull the trigger, we must take responsibility, and expect “an eye for an eye.”

I have worked with people who have taken on an adversarial role with others or with me, when they could have easily gotten what they wanted with courtesy and conversation.

And I have experienced toxic environments with unexplained animosity and bickering, much like that old Star Trek episode in which the crew of the Starship Enterprise could not explain uncharacteristic fighting among themselves, until they discovered a parasite on board feeding off their hatred, fear, anger, and violence; a parasite that could only be defeated by overcoming their animosities. (Gives a whole new meaning to “exorcism”!)

I do know how fear, anxiety, distrust, and poverty can make us more confrontational than we need to be. A small and everyday example: I have been undergoing a few sessions with a physical therapist for back problems. Having limited resources, I feared I was being taken advantage of, that I didn’t need a whole series of appointments. Apprehensive, I decided to talk things out with the clinic without expressing my worst fears, and found that indeed, they had my best interests at heart and were good people. The matter has been resolved without conflict or confrontation.

But not everyone has the opportunity to do that. Either there is such a long and painful history with “the system,” or “the system” is impervious to correction and change, that peaceful resolution seems impossible.

But as Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn found himself entangled in the multi-generational feud between the Shepherdsons and the Grangerfords. With the Grangerfords, Huck recounts:

Next Sunday we all went to church, about three mile, everybody a-horseback. The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery preaching—all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon and they all talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace and pre-foreordestination, and I don’t know what all, that it did seem to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet.

We need more brotherly and sisterly love, “and such-like tiresomeness,” without our defenses at the ready to blast one another.

Jesus’ answer to violence was vulnerability. Ask questions first, try to understand, and don’t shoot at all. His best offense was no defense. It has changed many hearts that otherwise might have remained hardened.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch proclaimed the gospel last week when she said, “I ask you to turn to each other, not against each other.”

Click Here to Link to Chris Glaser’s Blog: Progressive Christian Reflections

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