As the various events of this past week have unfolded, I have found myself at a loss for words. Trying to make sense of everything happening in this country, I have been struggling to find the words to make sense of these tragedies. I have been grateful that my son is too young to spend time watching, or reading, the news. It means he is too little to ask questions – especially the questions to which I don’t have answers.
Perhaps I am struggling with the wrong concept. Instead of struggling to make sense of the tragedies, perhaps I should be struggling to figure out how our society has become this way.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
– of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
– of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who do not know them;
– of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:
Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And, if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.
As the events of the week unfolded, my mind kept coming back to this passage on “rash judgment.” It has made me think of the society in which we currently live, and the society we will someday hand over to our children.
As I started to wonder about how we got to the current climate in this country, I also began wondering what we can do to change our current course. I found the following quote, attributed to Jesus, in the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska:
742 My daughter, if I demand through you that people revere My mercy, you should be the first to distinguish yourself by this confidence in My mercy. I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You should show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it.
I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first – by deed, the second – by word, the third – by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof love for Me.
I am struggling to identify a solution to the turmoil that currently plagues our country.
Perhaps I need to take a moment to identify how I can contribute to the solution.
I know that both the Catechism, and the words of Jesus in St. Faustina’s diary, point me in the right direction: to be ready to give a more favorable interpretation to another’s statement, and to exercise mercy toward others by way of deeds, words, and prayers.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in Strength to Love:
Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.
Furthermore, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also wrote:
Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.
I don’t know if there is a quick fix to change the climate across the United States, and I don’t know how much change I can effect on a mass scale.
What I do know is that the status quo must change.
My family of origin is biracial – my younger brothers and sisters, of various races, must be able to exist without fear for their safety, the same as my own children must be able to exist without fear for their safety.
What I do have faith in, is the belief that my actions toward others within my circle of influence will radically make a difference on a more immediate scale. If there are others like me, willing to curb rash judgments and implement more mercy toward others, the small circle of influence will grow larger.
In time, perhaps we will have less violence, less hatred, and less judgment. Instead, we will have more peace, more mercy, and more love.