Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Power of one

This morning, both my readings -- the Gospel of Thomas and Anne Lamott -- speak of the power of unitive peacemaking. When adversaries make the effort to cooperate, they can be so much more effective and powerful than when all their energies are spent fighting each other.

Not that this woman and her horse are necessarily adversaries. But they certainly could be: the horse could be stubborn, the woman could be angry or abusive. But to clear this hurdle, they need to move as one being, with one goal, and the effect of it is truly beautiful.

When Jesus was speaking of this phenomenon, I suspect he was more interested in unifying the warring factions within us; trying to encourage us to be at peace within, one with the spirit within us, undivided by the petty concerns that fight for survival or recognition; that worry there won't be enough food or love or attention or money or whatever it is we think we need. If we stay focused on God, if we can be at one with our calling, all those things will fall into place.

Ms Lamott was speaking from a more political perspective, believing that if we could set aside our need to be more, or better, or right, and pay more attention to our common needs and desires -- our common future -- we could quite possibly restore health to the earth and all its inhabitants, end war, end this relentless rape and pillage of our precious environment.

I find myself thinking on a much shallower level this morning. I just wish our democratic candidates would stop taking potshots at each other and focus on what is best for our country as a whole. I wish the leaders of Myanmar would stop protecting their turf and let people into their country to care for all the devastation the cyclone has brought. I wish the leaders who govern my little island would stop creating fiefdoms and arguing about budget shortfalls, abandon all their grandiose plans to appeal to more tourists and unite in the single task of taking care of the citizens and resources they already have.

It seems like common sense, to me: if we spend all our energy fighting with each other, we will have none left to tend the charges we have been given. There are plenty of hurdles in life. I think it has to be far easier to surmount them if we can work together in peace; pursuing a corporate agenda that has benefit for all rather than a selfish personal agenda. The trick, of course, is learning to trust that others will do the same -- and forgiving them for the times in the past that they have failed to do so. And that's a very tall order.

One of my daughters is currently studying under Mac Maharaj, a South African man who was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela and who is now attempting to build peace in Iraq with an initiative modeled on this principle of trust and forgiveness. He was interviewed about his efforts on NPR yesterday, and has some impressive observations about the challenge and promise of his labors:


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