transformation of energy
It’s been a really long time since I last blogged…need to start getting back in the habit of throwing my thoughts out to the world through this medium.
I just got out of a three and a half week class on Foundations of Nonviolence. To say the least, this class changed my life. It took what was already a little spark in my heart and mind and created a raging fire that I cannot put out. It seems like everything I talk about, every conversation I get into somehow morphs into a discussion about these principles I learned and how I want to start implementing them in my life.
I forget which reading it was in, but during the class we read a paper that spoke of an idea that’s now been floating in my heart for a few weeks. Maybe it was a quote from MLK, or Gandhi, but it talked about absorbing the violence that is being directed towards you during a protest or a conflict and not allowing violence to come up out of your heart and return to the perpetrator of those violent actions. This idea has been coming up in conversations with friends the past few days and I just can’t seem to stop thinking about it. It feels like such a contrary thought within our society today. Don’t react? Don’t respond with violence? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? An eye for an eye, right? How am I supposed to just absorb horrible things happening to me?
What I would like to propose is that for every action of hatred there is an equal and opposite reaction of love that we can tap into through God’s creative power that flows through us. It’s the same kind of contrarian wisdom we’re given by Paul in the book of Romans, chapter 12
20But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. 21Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good. (Amplified)
Wait, what? Feed my enemy? Show him/her compassion? And that’s how I win? That’s how I overcome evil? That seems to be exactly what Paul is saying….well, that IS exactly what Paul is saying. I believe that this is what Paul refers to again as the message of the cross in 1 Corinthians 1
18For the story and message of the cross is sheer absurdity and folly to those who are perishing and on their way to perdition, but to us who are being saved it is the [manifestation of] the power of God. 19For it is written, I will baffle and render useless and destroy the learning of the learned and the philosophy of the philosophers and the cleverness of the clever and the discernment of the discerning; I will frustrate and nullify [them] and bring [them] to nothing. (Amplified)
What is the message of the cross? I think part of it is that sacrifice is better than domination. That while we were still hating him, Christ died for us. To show us how much he loved us. He didn’t have any guarantee that we would respond to that love, but he did it anyway. We were his enemies. And he loved us. Not by forcing us into relationship, but by giving us an incredible view of what his love was capable of. This love was able to conquer death and destruction and hatred.
And he calls us as his children to have the same kind of love for our enemies. To take their hatred and violence, to absorb it, and to let it transform into the equal and opposite force before it comes back out of us. We are able to endure suffering and pain and violence because we are able to transform that energy into life. Into love.
That is the wisdom that looks so foolish to the world. We are told that the way to overcome evil is through superior fire power. That the only way to deal with a crazy lunatic (hello Ghaddafi…) is by blasting his country to hell. Or that the only way to overcome the evil that we saw on September 11 is to show those terrorists who’s boss.
But the wisdom of Christ, of the cross, is that we are to show our enemies love. To overcome evil with good. What if, instead of bombing Afghanistan, Bush stood in front of the country and the world and publicly forgave those that caused the tragedy? What if our response was not bombs, but an increased commitment to support the infrastructure of Afghanistan so that they would have no reason to hate us? What would our world look like now? What would Afghans have done had they received an outpouring of love and kindness from the United States, instead of a 10 year war?
How can we learn to absorb and then transform negative energy into positive energy? Science says this is how the world works. How do we apply the principles of science and the cross to our lives and our societies in order to create a more peaceful world? In order to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth?
Thanks to Gil, Dustin, Bethany, Valene, JP, Tricia and my FoN class for helping me process these thoughts…