During the cultural crisis in the USA in the 1960s, when fear and anger and violence, polarized Vietnam war hawks and doves, Blacks and Whites, young and old, poor and rich, I was a young boy growing up in the middle of an urban ghetto in Providence, Rhode Island. Dis-ease surrounded my conservative, middle class, Roman Catholic family in our living room, on our street, in our neighborhood, in my school and in our parish church. The danger became so overwhelmingly constant, my family moved in 1970.
When I was in the 3rd grade, “some Russian guy” killed President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. In the 8th grade, a white man shot Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Bobby Kennedy died 63 days later from his extremist assassin’s bullet. (content for other blog posts another day).
I repeatedly witnessed riots’ smashing and looting and burning. I heard protests with yelling and screaming and chanting. Literally, entire streets were destroyed homes, driveways, sidewalks, and the street itself, leaving craters right down to the sewer pipes. Destruction and decaying rubble was everywhere.
In the late 60’s and early 70’s, while in high school, I demonstrated while volunteering in both the antiwar and civil rights movements. In fact, I was suspended from high school for civil disobedience. In the 1980’s, I joined protests when a transvestite was shot by police who would be investigated by the FBI. I helped create the second hospice for persons with AIDS in the USA. I’ve managed therapy programs for abused/neglected/abandoned children for decades. I know social reformation. I have felt compelled to act when the ‘status quo’ became intolerable.
My personal journey has lead me to believe that although violence can indeed facilitate change, violence never heals. “Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.” – Tori Amos
Violence for violence sake is evil. Revenge is toxic and nobody wins. I am frequently mindful of Mahatma Gandhi’s caution: “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
Be determined to see things differently. Choose healing – healing that invites reconciliation, compassion and forgiveness. Try forgiveness.
“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.” – Rev. Henri NouwenAdvertisements