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“Absence of hope is war.





 “Absence of hope is war.

Absence of justice is life.
Absence of death is suffering.
and absence of love is darkness.”
Swaraj Bhatia, Our Days :A Survival Odyssey


As humans, we do have ideals.  I do, but I can say that I very seldom live up to my ideals in a persistent manner.  Justice for instance is an ideal.  We often call for justice, but in the end, it is mostly based on revenge.  Sometimes, justice or the call for it is just another version of the belief in “blood debt”.  Which only leads to more blood and debt.   Actually, the only way out of “blook-debt” is a death of one kind or another. 

We often speak of ‘love’, but it is for the most part based on that fragment of our nature that narrows it down to a particular few.   Or, if perhaps, there can be some kind of love for others, it is saved for those in one’s religion, country, or political party.  Anyone outside of our groups is considered a little less worthy of respect, caring, and yes, even life.  Of course, such love is easily shattered since it has shallow roots based on self-interest and survival.  Once an old ally steps over the line, they two are hated.   It is our nature after all.  For the most part, we are primates, nothing more.   

When real love is missing, which is the norm, we get the kinds of cultures we have today.  Granted there is much good in many of them, but the darkness grows over time when there is no center to stand from.   I guess you could say that I hold a dark notion of mankind.

I would counter that by saying, that it is perhaps the notion that I have of myself that I am talking about and making it universal.  Yet I am very human, and average, and many consider me normal. 

This morning our Abbot, Dom Augustine gave a good talk on the importance of prayer and how important it is.  So It has led me to think about it, or let it simmer is the best word.  I like to see thoughts settle and on their own, they seem to produce fruit of many kinds.   Some good and some bad. 

We all I believe hate war, yet it continues.  We want politicians who are honest, but they are a rare breed and seldom rise very far in the political universe.  We have governments that are more interested in personal power than anything else.  The average people or only considered seriously when it is the election, and then politicians tell us lies that we like to hear.   Yet repeatedly our leaders let us down, yet during election season many get hyped up over the ‘savior’ we will elect who will take care of our problems. 

Governments are needed, the world would be worse off without them, but yet, the best of them are still amoral.  It is self-preservation, the will to power, and the benefit of the country that rules over all else.  There are some exceptions, but they are not the norm. 

When Jesus shared his insights with us, and here, I am thinking of the Sermon on the Mount, and on the Plain, he was talking about how we relate to the man, woman, or child who is next to us, no matter their race, religion, or political leanings.  To love our enemies, to not return evil for good, etc.  It is not about some communal effort, but about one-on-one, which can lead to a collective transformation.  Stop the blood debt, and the cycle will stop.  In order to do that someone has to forgo what we think of as justice.   Not an easy task, and perhaps will never happen on a widespread basis, yet we can still do it, or attempt to do that.

How is that done?    The abbot is very big on the importance of our Monastic vocation in helping the world heal, through deep prayer.   This is of course applicable to any human being who prays, no matter their religion.   For God is owned by no one, nor bound by any human understanding of God's Infinite Love and Mercy. 

I think the answer is that I can’t love my enemies on my own.  My instinct is to participate in the lie about ‘blood debt’ that can be applied to many situations that involve perceived, or real injustice.  For without prayer, without grace, without the Heart and Mind of Christ Jesus, or of God for those from other paths, I am just a primate, seeking to survive.  A perceived threat has to be dealt with in a manner that will benefit me, and my own group, of those in my circle.

In prayer, we put on the Mind of Christ, or again, if we are on another path, begin to see the will of God in how we should relate to one another.  Christ has told us that He identifies with humans, and whatever we do to them, we do to Him.  If we hate another human being, truly hate, and only God knows when this happens, and it could be a very common reality, is truly tragic for the one who hates.  Seeing revenge can destroy the mind, heart, and soul of the one who hates.  It is poison.  Yet so easy to ingest. 

Over time when I struggle with the above, I pray for the one I am raging at or want to settle things and make the scales right again.   Which cannot happen.  The primate brain is interested in causing havoc, pain, and even death if pushed for enough.  The only alternative is putting on the heart and mind of Christ, or God.   It can be a hard path, but this is part of the ‘Death to Self’ that Jesus is talking about I believe.

An open heart will grow, the gist of the problem is to keep it open.   Praying will allow that to happen.  To not pray, one is left with one’s own judgment, emotions, and wounds that can cloud us so much that there is very little that we can be objective about, even if we fool ourselves that we are doing so.-Br-MD


Edited by markdohle


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