So, today, another war ends?
Awhile back I posted a video of a murmuration of starlings http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vhE8ScWe7w ; it showed how an entire community of individuals could move in graceful concert and create something astonishingly beautiful. I have just finished reading “In the Garden of Beasts,” by Erik Larsen. It chronicles the experience of a US embassy family, the Dodds, in Berlin during the rise of Hitler. In part, Germans becoming Nazi-fascists, is an example of how a community of people behave in concert to create something terrifying. Do you think there is something that can be called a “murmuration of evil?”
Festivals of murder and massacre in Rwanda? The rapturous faces of picnicking families celebrating at a lynching in Alabama? A school of beautiful, plump, white, children pledging allegiance to a flag or a cross? Larsen writes of how difficult it was to determine just when a society makes such a profound pathological shift. One day a shopkeeper is assaulted by two thugs; the police are called, the perpetrators are arrested and jailed, the shopkeepers wounds are compassionately attended to by his neighbors, there is a general lament and questioning of how such an unthinkable thing could have occurred. But on the next day that same Jewish shopkeeper is attacked by two brown shirted thugs, and some passers by applaud and encourage the attackers, others hurry by without pause or comment, the shopkeeper is left wounded in the street, familiar neighbors quickly shut windows and doors and ignore the plight of their former friend. There is a general and unspoken consensus that the Jewish shopkeeper is not the victim but his very being-in-the-world is a crime that demands punishment; and what are God’s people if not the very hand of God’s wrath here on earth? Is it to be hoped that the people of God are chosen to be-in-the-world as a *murmuration of love?*
So today’s reflection is from Thomas Merton: “Merely to resist evil with evil by hating those who hate us and seeking to destroy them, is actually no resistance at all. It is active and purposeful collaboration in evil that brings the Christian into direct and intimate contact with the same source of evil and hatred which inspires the acts of his enemy. It leads in practice to a denial of Christ and to the service of hatred rather than love.” It always seems so obvious after Merton writes it down! Choose wisely, a ‘murder of crows,’ or an ‘exaltation of Larks?’