The last step in our mending process is choosing a new destination. Once we’ve identified our current location, we pick the place we want to go, map a route and head out.
We must envision a better place – and describe it for others – before we can get there together. We need to develop a path forward and extend a hand for others to accompany us.
That’s how societies heal and move forward again.
So, what’s our vision for our society? How is it different from the vision of those who want to keep us divided, angry, fearful, miserable and at each other’s throats?
Moving toward a different place begins with showing people what it looks like. It involves sharing our vision and our dream for how we can live together in ways that benefit all people of goodwill.
Jesus talked about the kingdom of God more than anything. He described it, modeled it, lived it and enacted it through his words and his choices.
He reached out to those who were on the receiving end of someone’s cultural, religious or political war and invited them into this alternate and already-present kingdom that operates on love rather than violence and respects everyone as an equal child of God.
He described it as a place quite opposite of how his society operated – the last are first, the greatest are the least, the hurting are freely offered healing, those who are struggling take precedence.
He invited everyone into a different way of living. That’s our intent, too.
Offering the world a very different image
The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., followed this pattern. He offered a different vision – a new destination – for a racially divided society. He offered his dream of a world where all God’s children were treated as equals. He advocated and enacted it as best he could while inviting others to join the holy and creative work.
How we go about it matters greatly.
We must resist the temptation to respond to violence – physical or verbal — with our own. We can’t allow those promoting war to suck us into their anger and hostility and fear.
We’re not here to join in their mutual destruction; we’re here to transform.
This doesn’t mean we allow others to spew hatred unchecked or harm others without a response. The question is in what form we respond.
Trading insult for insult gets us nowhere – eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth stuff. Instead, we challenge purveyors of war with a vision of peace built upon nonviolent work for justice and equality for all God’s children.
We’re not going to change the opinions of those consumed by a war mentality, but we can reach the many people who are listening to our conversations and, like us, looking for a better world.
Most of all, we begin this re-creative act by living and enacting our vision through our daily lives, making it real in our interactions with others. Slowly and inexorably, the movement grows and the healing occurs.
That’s the journey. And it’s already begun.
(“Praying Hands” image courtesy of josephleenovak @creativecommons.org)