Living in a Changed World

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light; and
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive---
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)

We are sad. We are shaken. We are shocked. We are afraid. We are angry. Yet, we must not let our fear and anger carry us into evil foolishness.

Before we go to war, let us know with whom it is we are at war.

Before we go to war, let us reflect upon the reality of war.

War is pain. Not just a little bit of pain. It is deep wrenching agony multiplied in the hearts and minds of millions of individual people who would rather live without having their lives torn apart, their bodies wrecked, their families ruined, their buildings and monuments destroyed, their wealth taken away. It is death, disease, starvation, and long years of crippling illness. It is blindness, deafness, loss of limbs; it is being burned beyond recognition. It is your best friends and your family vaporized or dying slowly before your eyes. War doesn’t just happen on a Tuesday morning. It goes on for years.

War ups the ante. It starts with an act of violence that calls for a response. Somebody shoots an archduke in Sarajevo, and three decades later people who would have rather minded their own business are dropping atom bombs on civilians in a country they would have preferred to ignore a few years earlier.

The United States of America has been wounded. People will want a response, and political leaders will retaliate somehow. Let us enter into whatever it is we are entering into with our eyes open. Let us not forget our wisdom in the heat of our passion. Let us not create more hell out of our anger and fear. Let us consider the pain of those who would be our enemies. For it is that pain that drives them, and that compels them to share it with us.

This is a time for prayer.

Pray for the dead. May they be guided to the light. May this be their opportunity to know a higher love. Let us shine the light of love in our hearts to guide them to a higher state of being.

Pray for all those who have lost their loved ones. May their grief resolve in greater love.

Pray for ourselves that we don’t follow evil deeds with more evil.

Pray that we as a society may find wisdom to fashion a world where social and economic justice eliminate the conditions that beget terrorism.

Pray that we may each become instruments of peace.

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© 2001 Tom Barrett