We Need To Remember We Belong To Each Other - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

We Need To Remember We Belong To Each Other

October 8th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
We Need To Remember We Belong To Each Other

By Rev. Susan Wilmot

Guest Writer

We are living in extraordinary times, when many of us are experiencing increased violence in all its forms, including a significant upturn in verbal aggression and abuse, lies and public shaming.

Physical violence and threats are a constant in our lives now. That includes everything from bullying to road rage, and from gun violence to domestic violence.

Emotional abuse is no less a form of violence, and no less an issue with devastating effects. How often do we experience emotional blackmail from family, friends or total strangers who want something but can’t hear genuine regret when we have to say ‘no’ because their need exceeds our available resources?

We’re even in the midst of a war on spirituality, aimed primarily at our Muslim brothers and sisters who have become easy outlets for fear-driven people who seem to think that abusive behavior is now okay. It isn’t.

Then there’s the general selfish disregard for others, the everyday rudeness and simmering anger that flares up more and more frequently in what ought to be entirely innocuous encounters like shopping for groceries.

Have we forgotten that all people are beloved children of God with innate worth, value and equality in God’s eyes? Why do we feel so threatened by those who have different religious preferences, or who enrich us with the beauty of their diversity? Why are we clinging, as if our lives depended on it, to learned prejudices based on gender, age, or sexual orientation?

It is fear. But fear also triggers our deepest inadequacies and insecurities, and therefore makes us defensive and angry. Our fear tells us that we’re going to be on the losing end of change, even though change is inevitable.

On the other hand, there’s also intentional bigotry associated with changes in the status quo that may impact the privileges and relative wealth we enjoy by oppressing and exploiting others. The catch phrase “follow the money” often reveals the truth. The sad irony here is that if all we’re concerned about is money, then we’re profoundly impoverished, lacking in the most vital characteristics of authentic humanity.

For those who already follow Jesus, we have the power to reject the fear and fear-mongering, but we’re also compelled to actively engage in ending the violence. It’s not enough to refuse to participate in the madness of the world; we’re called to visibly and tangibly make a positive difference as peacemakers and compassionate servants who live in love.

In such a fragmented and spiritually disconnected world, only God’s transforming presence in our lives can bring us real peace and security that leads us into right thinking and right action. Live it boldly and share it generously.

Can there be peace in our time? It’s always a good time to think seriously about where violence begins and where it needs to end in order to help us all live out our call for shalom, which is peace with justice. Shalom is not just an end to violence, but also a desire for mutuality, actively working towards the very best for others, which by definition excludes all forms of violence.

In other words, when we’re living out of God’s love, we are most fully human and truly living into our Christ-like transformation and identity.

Violence is a travesty of love and justice, largely motivated by fear or a desire for power, control and even money. That is, of course, entirely contrary to God’s love or how God’s power works in us or in the world.

As Paul discerned God’s truth, and tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

God’s most profound expression of both love and power is Christ’s crucifixion. Our Lord goes willingly to the cross, revealing the ultimate truth that there is no violence in God. Violence began and continues with sin-soaked human beings.

As Jesus revealed, with God’s help, we are all capable of refraining from violence in what we say and do. As followers of Jesus, and as a matter of justice and equity for all, we’re also responsible for working to end violence. Whether that’s calling out the woman berating a veteran receiving a discount in a restaurant, intervening to protect a Muslim woman who’s being verbally assaulted, or working to ensure that when it comes to bullying, our schools have a zero tolerance policy that’s enforced equitably.

Sometimes the easiest way to say “no” to violence in our homes is to switch off the T.V. and refuse to buy games or toys that glorify violence in any form. Sometimes more drastic measures are needed to protect the life, health and well-being of ourselves and our children.

There is help available. There are shelters with experienced professional counselors who can facilitate a new beginning without abuse. The domestic violence hotline number is 1-800-799-7233. Finally, here are some words of wisdom from Mother Teresa to pray and ponder: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

– The Rev. Susan E. Wilmot, vicar at St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church & Preschool, 975 E. Warner Road, Tempe, can be reached at rector@stjamestempe.org, 480-345-2686 or stjamestempe.org.

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