Anyone following (or avoiding) the election campaigns cannot help but be aware that our country is suffering through a very divisive and dangerous time. Fed by media attention, a tribal mentality of “us” versus “them” has released a barrage of lies, threats, and counter threats, smear tactics, and shocking expressions of personal hatred. This daily dose of vitriol has fractured our nation. Like the fissures caused by an earthquake, the damage runs deep. A mood of mistrust and malignancy threatens the very ground of decency and democracy on which we base our government of the people, by the people, for the people. In vain do we seek a way out of the threat of post-election violence. What can we do to help heal our nation?
Julian of Norwich would tell us that, first of all, in accusing or judging anyone else for any reason at all, we must be willing to recognize our own ignorance and blindness.
I understood thus: Man is changeable in this life, and by frailty and ignorance falls into sin. He is powerless and foolish in himself, and also his will is corrupted at this time. He is in turmoil and in sorrow and woe. And the cause is blindness, for he does not see God. For if he saw God continually, he would have no mischievous feeling, nor no manner of stirring, nor sorrowing that inclines to sin.
Julian realized what we all need to realize; namely, that because of our own weaknesses and faults, we ourselves have at times become “corrupted.” We, too, have committed sins of pride, greed, and anger. We, too, have told lies and then tried to cover them up. We, too, have sought revenge when we’ve felt personally harmed. Julian would remind us that we are all spiritually “blind”; we have all experienced “mischievous feelings” that have led us into sin. When we lash out at others, whether candidates or co-workers, family members or friends, we assume we know every aspect of their hidden intentions. Then we proceed to judge them from our own inner blindness. But who among us is so clairvoyant as to feel justified in casting the first stone? Who can truly judge another’s heart but God?
Of course, wrongdoing must be exposed, but God forbid we ever consider ourselves “holier than thou.” And yes, we may feel infuriated by lies, corruption, cover ups, and sexual misconduct. But Julian would advise us that our response should not be to fan the flames of anger or seek revenge, but rather to cultivate a deep compassion for our fellow human beings. Imagine if we dared to pray for the very people who incur our outrage, and for all those running for election, whether we agree with their positions or not? Imagine what a wave of peace and healing might flood our nation? Julian inspires us to choose the way of peace and mercy that is the only cure for human blindness and ignorance:
But our good lord the holy ghost, who is endless life dwelling in our soul, keeps us securely, and works therein a peace, and brings it to ease through grace, and makes it obedient, and reconciles it with God. And this is the mercy and the way in which our good lord continually leads us, as long as we are in this life which is changeable.
PLEASE NOTE: Quotations above are from Julian's Gospel: Illuminating the Life & Revelations of Julian of Norwich
(Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books), Copyright © 2013 by Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. This article may not be copied or reprinted without the written permission of the author.
All text copyrighted © 2013-2018 by Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. No copying or reprints allowed without the express permission of the Author.