There is encouraging evidence that we share in a collective consciousness which is guiding us to fulfill God's Eternal Dream of a peaceful people, under a friendly sky in union with all creation.
This is not milk-toast sentiment nor naive wishful-thinking either. It is obvious that we are struggling through times of violence, addiction, injustice, and a myriad of terrible problems. But while it seems that we are practically derailed by our own pain, there is an undercurrent of love joining us together in ways that we can hardly fathom.
A good example is the burgeoning movement called Campaign Nonviolence observed this week with workshops, marches, festivals, and gatherings all around the USA. Emerging from 50 cities comes a light shining on ways to end what Dr. King called the three evils of society; racism, poverty and war.
Memphis, Tennessee, one of the five most violent cities in the country would seem to be an unlikely place to wage peace. But the city is fully embracing Campaign Nonviolence. One of the most powerful events occurs on Saturday, September 21. Memphis is hosting a forum at the National Civil Rights Museum which is located at the site of the assassination of Martin Luther King. People are joining in a desire to end systemic violence. Their stated goal is "to discuss and co-create life skills tools that can help towards a more tranquil, respectful and compassionate life in each of the core life interactions - personal, professional and societal." They have an action plan which includes projects for veterans groups, schools and multi-cultural organizations.
I have come to believe that work for nonviolence must begin within the shadows of our inner selves. This involves admitting tendencies we have to judge others. We must recognize not only the harm we inflict by what we say and do but by exploring the violence we harbor in our hearts. We trade evil for good, as Thomas Keating suggests, by making our internal and external enemies our partners.
In so doing, we become empowered to authentically live out the Gospel message of peace by loving our neighbors without prejudice or exceptions.
Banner Photography Phillip LeConte