Monday, February 16, 2015

Lord, please forgive us

Shootings. Murder. Executions.
Kidnapping. Rape. Sexual slavery.
Genocide. Human trafficking.
National and international unrest. Civil war.
Infringement over borders.
Religious hatred and intolerance.
Racial injustice. Prejudice. Fear. Mistrust.
Immigration issues. Deportation. Extortion.
The list of horrors, the list of sorrows, the list of needs is long.
And getting longer.

In response, some advocate for more guns.
Repay violence with violence.
Hatred with more hatred.
Fear with more fear.
Higher walls. Thicker walls. More walls.
Do it to them before they do it to us.
Defend yourself. Defend your property. Defend your borders.
Stand your ground.

I go on Facebook and blogs and media sites and read people's angry and shrill responses to what is happening in our city, in our nation, and in our world.
I read diatribes against our President and politicians of all persuasions.
I read accusations about civic and community leaders, about pastors and teachers.
I read the same names over and over - followed by their ruthless and remorseless verbal attacks on "friends" that are trying to figure out what is wrong with our country and our world.
I read taunts and insults, slurs and innuendos.

I read people's desperate questions.
I read people's hopes and dreams of peace and justice.
I read about an army of love, taking back the night in their cities and towns.
I read about random acts of kindness and love.
I read about generosity and community, about dreams realized, wishes granted, and victories won.
I read challenges to stop engaging in meaningless online exchanges and get out into the community, into the world engaging with hurting people.
I read accounts of sworn enemies sitting together at the table of peace and conversation.
I read news of lives saved, families reconciled, and hope restored.
I read prayers of gratitude.

Then I get on my knees.
I speak up - as in, up towards heaven.
Then I get up.
I stand up - as in, stand in front of people and plead for peace and love and mercy to be extended to those we see and ought to love. To the "least of these" - whoever and wherever they may be. Wherever we may be.
I turn up - as in, turn up the volume on kindness and grace and attempts at understanding.
I turn down - as in, turn down the volume of my voice and the vehemence of my opinions.
After all, as sincerely as I believe what I believe, I may be sincerely wrong.

I may be wrong about not repaying evil with more evil.
I may be wrong about not caring where people are from, but instead focusing on where they are right now.
I may be wrong about praying for all people everywhere to know peace and safety and have enough to eat and access to medical care and an education.
I may be wrong to dream of living in a nation in which paying our teachers, our nurses, our nurses' assistants, our community leaders, our librarians, our preschool childcare workers, and our social workers a generous wage to promote health, peace, understanding, reading, writing, listening, creativity, and education, was a higher priority than paying our professional athletes and actors millions of dollars to play games, to pretend, and also to promote soda, fast food, diet trends, alcohol, and overpriced shoes.
I may be wrong to want to acknowledge how little I know and how wrong I'm sure I am about so many things I think and believe.
I may be wrong to pray, on behalf of myself, my family, my city, my nation, and my world, but nothing will stop me from doing so.

Lord, please forgive us.
Forgive us our fear and the many ways that fear motivates our lives and our choices.
Forgive us for turning to violence as an imperfect and ineffective response to our fear.
Forgive us for how often we accuse others of and judging others for doing the same things we do.

Forgive us our tendency to pull the trigger first and ask questions later.
Forgive us for creating the triggers in the first place.
Forgive us for relying on the triggers we have created.
The trigger of prejudice.
The trigger of defensiveness.
The trigger of violence.
The trigger of addictive behavior.
The triggers of anger, of rage, of volcanic outbursts.
The trigger of competitiveness.
The trigger of jealousy.
The trigger of comparison.
The triggers of superiority and inferiority.
The trigger of isolation.
The trigger of abandonment of others.
The trigger of abandonment of ourselves.
The trigger of sarcasm.
The trigger of ridicule.
The trigger of gossip.
The trigger of excuse-making.
The trigger of manipulation of others.
The trigger of ill-conceived humor.
The trigger of lying.
The trigger of abuse.
The trigger of retaliation.
When in doubt, when afraid, when threatened, pull the trigger. Any trigger.
React first. Process later.
Lord, please forgive us, I pray.

Lord, please forgive us because most of the time, we don't have any idea what we're doing.
Lord, please forgive us because some of the time we do know what we're doing.
We know that what we're doing will hurt others and hurt ourselves.
Please forgive us because, even knowing that, we do it anyway.

Lord, please forgive me, I pray, because I am often more interested in being safe and staying safe than in helping others, reaching out to others, acting with and for others, and speaking up for others.
Forgive me, I plead, for all the times that I too have pulled the trigger and later had to hope and pray that my words, my actions, my greed, and my self-righteousness have not caused irreparable damage.
Lord, please forgive me because I often know that I am about to hurt someone,
but I do it, I say it, I write it anyway. Whatever "it" is.

And Lord, please help us to forgive one another.
Help us to walk slowly and patiently with one another through the minefield of life.
Help us to listen closely enough to hear the terrified pounding of each other's heartbeats.
Help us to recognize that we do, in fact, all bleed and ache and shake and wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, wondering if we are going to be okay. If our children are going to be okay. If this planet is going to survive our abuse of it.
Help us to look past our clean and well-manicured facades, to look beyond the outward appearance of things and people and situations and see each other's true selves, hear each other's true stories, and bear each other's true burdens.
Help us to love one another.
Help us to love you.
Lord, please help us, forgive us, transform us, and make us new.
Otherwise, the long list of horrors, sorrows, violence, executions, shootings, attacks, kidnappings, fear, and everything else that is plaguing and killing us will only get longer.

Lord, please forgive us.
Lord, please have mercy on us.
Lord, please give us the courage, the strength, and the fortitude to have mercy on each other.

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