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To Be an Undivided People

I'm reading a fantasy novel series to my youngest daughter, and in the denouement, the main protagonist, Taran, Assistant Pig Keeper is shocked that the king, Lord Gwydion declares he will raise a barrow to King Morgant who had betrayed them all in a quest for power. "...Gwydion replies, "It is easy to judge evil unmixed," but alas, in most of us, good and bad are closely woven as the threads on a loom; greater wisdom than mine is needed for the judging. King Morgant served the Sons of Don long and well," he went on. "Until the thirst for power parched his throat, he was a fearless and noble lord. In battle, he saved my life more than once. These things are part of him and cannot be put aside or forgotten. And so shall I honor Morgant," Gwydion said, "For what he used to be, and Ellidyr Prince of Pen-Llarcau for what he became." (The later had sacrificed himself to rid their world of an evil despite a lifetime of selfishness). --The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. Or, to use a more current favorite fantasy fiction, "The world is not divided between good and death eaters." Loving your enemies mean not wishing them anything other than reformation, than restoration, than finding themselves surprised by joy, not abandoned. If we can see no good in the people around us then we will find ourselves surrounded by monsters, and we will meet the enemy and it will be us. The reality is that social media creates an untrue binaryness of conversation that precludes any both and, and demands instead a fealty to an either or, but declares itself as authoritatively correct. Real relationships go beyond the binary. Real relationships are messy, hard, and yet forgiving even when we don't want to, not because we wish to be doormats but because we wish to extend the opportunity always for something better than what was. However, do we wish it? If not, then we are the problem. I've seen it in the demand that we condemn everyone who ever voted for the current President. I have family and friends I love, who didn't want to vote for the President Elect and who felt strongly that there wasn't a good choice. Everyone feels justified in their rage. Everyone feels that it's time to rage. It's necessary that the other, feel the rage we feel and know it is directed at them. The rage at anyone who didn't feel happy voting against one or for the other (and in this respect, it doesn't matter who the other is), entitles us to declare "them" dupes, useful idiots, or worse. That's the problem. When there is great wrongness, great evil, there is great temptation to feel justfied in rage. We're not good at righteous anger, we don't stay there. It's too quick and too easy to fall into wrath. It's why Christ tells Saint James and Saint John they should not reign down fire on the towns that rejected them. There's a great struggle in our lives, how do we love someone with whom we disagree, and not lose hold of our values in the process? Answer, it's only with extraordinary grace, and we're not recognizing this is required. The demand that those who are in the wrong beg for forgiveness before offering mercy is itself rooted in the eye for an eye and not the turn the other cheek. People may want to point out, "They had it coming, they deserve it," but this likewise glories in the suffering of others not as merely deserved but richly so. We are spiritually always in danger when we proclaim it safe to enjoy someone suffering, especially if the consequences are really bad. Being on the side of angels means grieving that souls were this wrong, and praying for them with a whole heart that they somehow, through God's grace, heal. BUT THEY'RE WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG --They did bad things. They're evil evil evil evil...we can name their sins. We know they sinned. We can prove they sinned. Yes...but they are also as hard as it is to remember, both and. They are humans we must encounter. They are enemies we must love. If we cannot out mercy God, then we cannot be too merciful to others. It's a reality we were supposed to really wrap our hearts around in the year of mercy. We still haven't, not by a long shot. Those who stormed the capital and smeared it and swore to hurt people and did these wrong illegal immoral things, they will face consequences, both in this world and the next. But we don't get to hate them. They are the most pitiable of people, showing they lack pity themselves. I go back to the reality of how Mary responded to Christ's crucifixion. If anyone only human could justly rage at the crowd for their wrong thinking, for their group thinking, for their stupidity, it would be her. She who had not sinned, did not rage at them for crucifying her Son. If anyone could justly condemning all of the crowd for refusing God's friendship, it would be Christ, and yet even here he offers. It's beyond us absent grace, great grace. Yet here, we aspire. Want to be part of the work for a better dialogue, for a stronger sense of how to infuse social media with charity in truth and truth with charity? Come to "A Good Discourse," and be a part of the dialogue. A Good Discourse...Register today! For help registering, email Sherry Antonetti, author of The Book of Helen, freelancer and blogger @Chocolate For Your Brain!

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