Many earnest Americans believe they can fight evil with angry chanting, venomous signs, and even physical attacks on others. And our social media has become a literal breeding-ground of self-righteous rage, where if you disagree with those shouting the loudest, you risk being obliterated altogether! Yet, even with all these well-meant efforts being made by many to right great wrongs, it can be argued that there is more bitterness and rage in this nation now than there ever has been in the worst moments of our history, including in the depths of the Civil War. And apparently even the vitriol of that darkest of times is now being recycled! It has just been announced that The New York Times is going to work to make slavery the permanent center of this nation’s view of its own founding. I have studied and written about America’s founding, and also about the roots of our racial problems; and based on my research, I can tell you that The New York Times’s 1619 Project, how ever well-intended it might be, can only create even more pointless rage while it does nothing good for any living soul.
The immutable laws of spiritual physics ensure that any attempt to further sharpen America’s racial divisions will just be the source of more anger and pain. As we have said here at length, both the work of physicists and the witness of those that we used to think were dead agree that what we experience as human consciousness is the base creative force. It was the great quantum physicist and Nobel laureate Max Planck who made this discovery, and no other explanation of reality has anything like so much supporting evidence; so the jury is still out, but its verdict seems sure. And the base consciousness that generates reality is an energy-like potentiality that exists in a range of vibrations, from the lowest, which is fear and anger, to the highest, which is perfect love. So, far from being just personal and private, what you and I experience as emotion turns out to be the fundamental force for greater evil or for more perfect good that powers all of reality! Therefore, anything that promotes more fear or anger is going to make every social problem that burdens this nation and the world still worse.
It is this fact that lies at the core of the teachings of Jesus, and also at the root of every successful nonviolence movement worldwide. All our efforts to battle evil have only made things a great deal worse, so Americans have no choice now but to espouse what can be demonstrated to ease our divisions while we all work to foster greater working harmony. And fortunately, there are encouraging signs that this sort of positive easing is happening. Americans are weary of political fighting! And proactive groups which are designed to bring peace to our political process are beginning to make some headway. Even the scientific community is paying attention to aspects of our need to sow love and kindness, as is evidenced by the fact that of late Scientific American has been exploring such emotions-based issues as how we might use social media to increase our level of kindness, and even the thorny but fundamental question of how we can better learn to love our enemies.
All of this is hopeful. But it doesn’t go far enough!
We have lately discussed two martyred heroes of the worldwide nonviolence movement, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr. And as we’ve talked about them here, we have come to see how similar they were to one another, both in their terrible historical moments and in their radically love-based approach. Not only did they renounce the notion that violence in words or deeds could be helpful to their causes; but far beyond that, each of them used the Gospel teachings in which their lives were grounded to demonstrate a radical love for humankind that seems almost inconceivable to us now. Dr. Bonhoeffer was battling the Nazi effort to eradicate millions of innocent people, while Dr. King was striving to help his country transcend its appalling racial past. But neither of them actually fought at all! Instead, they worked to ease people’s suffering without head-on tackling the evil that produced it, since they knew that those who fought the evil were only further inflaming it. Instead, each used the quiet power of the love-based message of Jesus and their own beautifully loving examples as the levers by which they worked to move the world. This is an essential lesson that we must internalize as deeply as they did, or we will never be able to accomplish anything of lasting value.
Dr. Bonhoeffer and Dr. King lived and died by the words of Jesus, and it was because they did that so well that their work lives on! The Lord said, “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (MT 5:39-41). And He said, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (LK 6:35-36). They never showed rage or hatred, not even in the face of their own martyrdom. In this, also, they closely followed the Lord!
Jesus was anxious to ensure that the fools who were pounding nails into His flesh would not be blamed. As it was happening, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (LK 23:24).
In the same vein, Dr. King said on the night before His assassination, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land! I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the Promised Land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”
And Dr. Bonhoeffer said cheerfully to his fellow prisoners from the gallows, “This is the end. For me, the beginning of life.”
It feels hard to say this, but the basis of human society worldwide seems now to be dominance and rage, to the point where even the language we use to plead with one another to be more peaceful is grounded in the problem, and not in the solution. This sadly occurred to me as I was doing additional research before writing this piece. Everything I could find to read talked about promoting “nonviolence” as the goal, as if “violence” were the human normal so that was where our efforts at improvement must begin. But violence is emphatically not the human normal! Every human mind is inextricably part of the Godhead, the base creative force. And in order for us to ever make a difference in the world, we first must ground ourselves in that certainty, and in the Gospel teachings of Jesus as Dr. King and Dr. Bonhoeffer both did so well. We must love everyone, without reservation!
As Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (MT 5:43-45). And we must be peacemakers. As the Lord said, Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called the sons and daughters of God (MT 5:9).
Our work must not be defined as simply a lack of violence! Instead, it must be proactively grounded in nothing but perfect, eternal love. Jesus tells us, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (MT 5:13-16).
Dr. King and Dr. Bonhoeffer can make our need to learn to live the Lord’s love-based truth much easier than it could have been! They can be our spiritual leaders now, our lodestones, our beautifully true examples. Next week we will look at how you and I and all the kindred spirits around us can learn from them how to be the light that this nation and the world now so desperately need….