In this troubled and troubling world we are continually forced to choose sides or else risk indifference or complicity by virtue of inaction. But taking sides also perpetuates a society of winners and losers, of “us vs. them.” How can one seek peace and inclusivity and at the same time work for justice when working for justice means choosing sides and standing in opposition? How can one love one’s enemies and fight against their actions without fighting against them? We need a world characterized by tolerance and respect toward all whether they are our faith or not, whether they are our gender or not, whether they are our color or heritage or ethnicity or not, whether they are our nationality or background or not, and also whether they are in our political camp or not. We need to be a people that will not be governed by hate ~ either from within ourselves or from without. To accomplish that we will need to learn how to fuse love and compassion with nonviolent action.
In his award-winning book, Exclusion & Embrace, Bosnian-born theologian Miroslav Volf says, “It may not be too much to claim that the future of our world will depend on how we deal with identity and difference.”…Where articles of belief threaten to set people in opposition to one another, we may embody articles of peace. Where difference is demonized, we may host suppers with surprising guest lists…We may test the premise that God uses the weak to confound the strong as well as the promise that the God who made others different from us is revealed in them as well as us.
~ from AN ALTAR IN THE WORLD by Barbara Brown Taylor
We must love them both—those whose opinions we share, those whose opinions we don’t share. They’ve both labored in the search for truth and have helped us in finding it. ~ Thomas Aquinas
For compassion to move from feeling to action it must practice the art of power. Spiritual action requires an alliance of love, power, and justice. As Paul Tillich said: in both interpersonal and political relationships love, power, and justice are inseparable. Without love, power becomes tyrannical and justice is only a name for the rule of strong. Without power, love is reduced to sentimentality and justice to an impotent ideal. Without justice, love is a perverse dance of domination and submission.
~ Pam Keen in “Spirituality and Health” Summer 2002
Compassion is a kind of fire—it disturbs, it surprises, it ignites, it burns, it sears, and it warms. Compassion incinerates denial; it especially warms and melts cold hearts, cold structures, frozen minds, and self-satisfied lifestyles. Those touched by compassion have their lives turned upside down. ~ Matthew Fox