Led by Professor Alastair (piano’d by him too).
Good morning, and peace be with you this day in the Light. Peace may seem hard to achieve today, quietness hard to find, and reconciliation far out of reach. Some days there may be only noise. Some days, chaos will take the upper hand. It is on these days when faith is most difficult. Sometimes, my heart is not full of thanksgiving and prayer, only questions.
I find myself today lacking prayer. It isn’t enough. In the face of hatred and violence, it isn’t enough. Faith cannot be passive. We are, all of us, players in a story far bigger than ourselves, and each a participant in a spiritual battle raging every day. We mustn’t simply sit by and pray– God cannot fix these things for us, for we have done them to ourselves. It is only by being radically accepting, choosing love over hatred, peace over violence, and action over inaction that we have a prayer of combating the evil at work in this world.
And there is real evil– to deny it only gives the monster strength. Real evil is insidious; it permeates thought and reason, distorts reality, and makes hatred seem normal where it ought to repulse us. We cannot allow ourselves to become comfortable with the presence of evil. We must move through the world with eyes open, minds sharply attentive, and we must denounce evil, cruelty, and injustice wherever we see it.
While I know many of you listen from all over the world, today I find myself still shocked and heartbroken by what unfolded in practically my backyard yesterday– you may have seen coverage of Charlottesville in Virginia. I find myself compelled to say: these acts of violence will never be acceptable, and whatever ideology that hides behind White Nationalism (by whatever name it’s called), self-righteous patriotism, or Manifest Destiny: this is the great spectre which haunts the nation. This underlying sense of superiority will be the downfall of Goodness if it is not checked. When people begin to denounce reason, choose division over unity, reject science, and believe it is acceptable to take up arms against a neighbor, this is where evil takes hold. These are the things we must challenge daily in our lives, the things which much rally us to fight. One cannot fight evil with violence, for one begets the other in a cycle we see unfolding behind us through history. Instead, we must meet evil with unity, an unwavering commitment to love and decency, and the strength of heart to say, “You will not speak for us, and if that is how you would speak, you will not be welcome here.”
There is freedom of speech, but there is no freedom of consequence. If a person’s speech perpetuates evil and encourages violence, then that person has used their freedom in a way which compromises the freedoms and safety of others. As a people, we must not tolerate this. We must never tolerate evil, and this particular form of evil walks next to us every day. It sows its seeds in our neighbors, our coworkers, sometimes even our families. At times, the scope is so vast it seems there is nothing a person can do– what is one to a multitude? Very important, I’d say. Sometimes all it takes is one voice in a conversation to say, “that isn’t right.” Sometimes a small act of kindness can combat great damage done by evil. It doesn’t matter what you do– speak, write, rally, take relief supplies to those who need them– it only matters that use the voice you have, and do not participate in evil’s advance through your silence.
Peace to you, and be brave in the Light.