Good Lord Deliver Us From Our Good Intentions
From the cowardice that dare not face new truth,
From the laziness that is contented with half truth,
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
Good Lord, deliver me.
-Prayer from Kenya
On a typical day I get several emails and receive several letters in the mail from various groups advocating for one position or another. Each one claiming to be of utmost importance and often invoking the phrase of the "moral imperative". I have to admit that I have been known to send a few of those emails myself. I try to be careful not to be alarmist or get caught up in the cause du jour, but I can't always help myself.
There is, what we can no longer refer to as a cottage industry because of its tremendous size, rather, an industry of tremendous proportion which whips our population into a frenzy over this or that. Many of these issues are serious to be certain, the war in Iraq, poverty, globalization and the environment among so many others. Why is it, however, that after reading a single email, article, letter or blog entry that our minds can be made up and we can be inspired to act? Being an amateur organizer myself, I realize that it is against my self interest even to ask this question. However, I also realize that there are things that are more important than my self interest and forwarding my personal agenda no matter how balanced I may believe that agenda to be.
Although each of us may know hatred, injustice or evil when we see it, how can we as individuals or even groups of people of like minds presume to know the best way to solve problems that plague entire societies? In order to solve the problems of our society we must engage all of its members, rich or poor, democrat or republican, liberal or conservative.
Nonviolence as its is practiced by followers of Gandhi and Thomas Merton is not a tactic or a political strategy. It is a quest for the truth. We need to recognize that our view of the truth is subjective. We must come to understand that human issues are not like the sides of a coin, that there are more than just two options for every issue. We must resist the urge to demonize those who do not agree with our world view and we must guard against self-righteousness.
Not only can the best laid plans "oft go astray" but also can the best intentions. May God help us all to find the truth and may he save us from the consequences or our best intentions.