What Side Are We On?
By Sister Michelle
In recent decades I have absorbed the non-optimistic-truth of the ubiquitous corruption and cruelty of human beings: Corporate executives, unions, professionals, politicians, bishops, priests, nuns, parents, bullies, scientists, governments and military have all betrayed us in major ways- even in just the last 10 years.
I must face the fact that through the millennia, in every nation, there has been torture, rape, violence, exploitation of the vulnerable, cheating, betrayal of every trust. In my youth I thought of these as unfortunate and uncommon evils which could be addressed and resolved by education, good laws and the development of virtue. Now I know how much it has always been and will always be a major part of human experience. While my own life is comparatively easy and pleasant, I am a family therapist and also a fan of “in-depth news and intelligent talk” (National Public Radio) therefore I am exposed to and try to heal the effects of human evils every day. I must consciously fight the temptations to evil in my own soul. I have learned that sometimes I must ration how much of the world’s problems I can bear to hold in my mind and heart at one time.
So I have lost optimism; does that mean I have lost Hope and Faith in a loving God?
I think it is clear: God is not the great rescuer from this world’s ills. Jesus himself points out that miracles are not given to everyone. (Lk 4:25) Nor does He explain the basis for selection. When warned of evils to come from his enemies, he did not stop his ministry nor change his radical message but instead “set his face toward Jerusalem” until he suffered his terrible death. HE suffered betrayal, torture, abuse of power. He died at the hands of evildoers and was abandoned by the masses who might have intervened. If God himself willingly suffers the effects of human sinfulness, then surely we cannot expect exemption. So what do we do? What good is a God who does not protect even innocent children?
Jesus asked his disciples “Will you also leave me?” and they answered “to whom will we go?”. I have lived and loved enough to know that there is great evil but also that there is great beauty and great goodness in this world and in every human being. For me, God is the Source of all Goodness. In a very real way, life is a choice and is filled with choices between good and evil. As long as I live I want to Choose the side of goodness. We must never stop our service or change our message out of fear of or accommodation to evil. With God’s grace we can respond to evil with compassionate mercy. Mercy for those who suffer and for those who sin. Let us “be the change we wish to see” (Gandhi) God’s love is present in EVERY life circumstance; not to help us escape but to help us learn how to love and to be loved. And if we die in the process?… we know that this life, this world is only the beginning of our Life in Christ.