Last week saw a truly momentous event in world history. We must pay exquisite attention to this. We must hold it up and sing about it.
A Charleston church community, after many decades of oppression and the recent loss of nine members, including their beloved pastor, to a racist gunman came together with the leader of their nation, arguably the most powerful nation on this planet, not just to grieve the pastor of the church but to respond with GRACE and forgiveness to this violence and hatred.
This community did not do what mankind has done since the beginning of civilization – scream in rage and rant about revenge. These people broke the cycle of violence – of fear, seeing others as foreign and less than, and then committing cruel violent acts against these others generating more fear and ever more violent acts in turn. This dreadful circle of reciprocal hatred is the plague that we, as a species, cannot seem to control. The plague that is likely to kill us all way before this planet becomes uninhabitable. Through the ages some spiritual leaders have tried to stem this plague, others have actually fed the infection.
In my heart, I had given up the idea that we could ever succeed in stopping this insanity. As a psychologist, I read books, usually in the evening, about how we are naturally empathic, and I believe them. But hours later, as I read the morning papers, any signs of that empathy become lost in the constant tale of man’s inhumanity to man. But on June 27th 2015, I opened my paper and read a story about a national leader singing about grace with a community who, even though in deep pain, found the amazing strength to respond, not only without enmity but with dignity and human love and charity to this vicious attack.
These people stopped the circle spinning. They stemmed the infection of aggressive retaliation. The President of the US spoke of the precious and extraordinary gift of God’s grace that empowers this community. I see the precious and extraordinary gift that they give to us by their response to this senseless violence. They give us all the gift of hope.
I thank them.