If I may…
Okay, so here’s what happened last week:
Say, you’re really into kayaking. But you just haven’t done it for a while. You’ve been preoccupied with other things, but in your fervent desire to get back in the water, you begin planning a massive kayaking excursion to jump-start your re-commitment to kayak on a regular basis.
(Stay with me here.)
But somewhere along the trip-planning process, you became distracted again. Other pressing matters forced you to postpone your big trip indefinitely.
Once the preoccupations passed, you were so overcome with frustration and a sense of urgency to get back into the water, that you drove to the nearest river immediately.
And jumped in… without a life-jacket, paddles, or…. even a kayak.
(Are you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down? I’m talking about myself and blogging here, people. I jumped into the water too fast. With last week’s post I didn’t give any content or context, but I expected people to respond anyway. I ….. oh, never mind. )
At any rate, there was actually a reason as to why I asked the question I did last week of what you think makes us human, what separates us from animals.
Because this blog is about the journey, the “song,” of faith… and faith, I think, is in many ways the discovery of what it means to be truly human.
Last week, while I didn’t pay a ton of attention to the news, there were two things I saw a ton of…. tweets and messages of Martin Luther King quotes, and references/opinions on the tragedy in Arizona.
Conversation about hate and violence have been on our minds more so than normal… although even by this week, many of us may already be again slipping into complacency about conversations about hate and violence.
But I have heard/read people (including President Obama) making the connection between rhetoric and violence, a connection that King understood all too well. His mission, and his birthday, brought timely reminders to all of us about the cycles of violence, and how they are fed by fear and exclusion…. and how they can be redeemed with defiant, bold, and blinding love. The sheer number of King quotes that were passed around Facebook and Twitter, I think, came out of a need for us to remember this “good news,” and that for all the shouts for violence, shouts for peace could and do still ring out as well.
Animals fight back. They see the world in terms of survival and in the perception of threat. Either they fight, or flee.
Humans are animals, and left to our own devices, we do this, too. (And sometimes our “fighting” and “fleeing” is expressed through our words, especially in this world of New Media that gives everyone a voice.)
Yet the way of Jesus was different. His way was the Sermon on the Mount. His way was to love our enemies… and people in our age like King, Maximilian Kolbe, Oscar Romero, Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, as well as countless others in the 20 centuries following the ultimate act of self-giving love, have provided the church with a living testimony to that way.
That way is unnatural…. but it is the most truly human way to live… in the way that God intended.