(Mes amis francophone, désolé mais nous sommes en vacances et je ne veux pas embêter Mme pour travailler sur mes traductions. Pendant nos vacances mon blog sera sans une traduction française.)
My last post spoke of the three movies I saw on my flight from Paris to Philadelphia, “Last Vegas”, “Philomena” and “Saving Mr. Banks”. The focus of my post was on Saving Mr. Banks but as I was concluding my post I realized a common point between the three movies. I am going to begin with the conclusion of my last post and continue developing it. And this theme is perfect for my monthly Bloggers for Peace post! https://bloggers4peace.wordpress.com/
All three movies touched on the theme of forgiveness and loving your enemies. Maybe it’s just a coincidence but as Albert Einstein said, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
And as I have continued thinking about this in the past two days I was struck how much a book I am reading fits into this theme.
A few months ago I was going on the web site of an on-line British book store. They had a special 24 hour sale when every half an hour they put a different book on sale at a low price. Let me reassure you that I didn’t stay in front of my computer for 24 hours but only when I was home and not doing anything else. At one point I clicked on ‘Special offers’ on their web page and then clicked on the spirituality section.
Among the books I saw “God In All Things” by Gerard W. Hughes. Gerard W. Hughes was a name I had never heard of but the description sounded interesting and the price was low so I thought, “Why not?”
The book arrived, and as I had other things I was already reading, I put it aside. Recently I started reading it and realized that Mr. Hughes is a Jesuit priest who sees spirituality as the realization of God being present in the individual and allowing oneself to be a channel for God to touch others through us.
I also came to realize that he was a Catholic Jesuit priest who has been active in movements for peace and justice for many years. For Father Hughes there can be no spirituality without peace and justice as God is, above all, compassion, peace and justice.
For Father Hughes the key for successfully working for peace and justice is to use non-violence to put the aggressor in a position to make him realize how his behavior is wrong.
For those who launch violent protests at G8 meetings he suggests a change of strategy. Rather than violent protest, which costs a lot of money to organize and put into place and often leaves the public with a negative image of the protesters, take that money and have the leaders of eight poor countries invite the G8 leaders to come spend a week with poor people of those countries.
Father Hughes was more than happy to work with anyone concerned by peace and justice regardless of religion or lack of religion. He found them surprisingly open to spirituality as they had the base of peace and justice in their lives, making it easier for them to respond to God.
I found myself reacting to his words sometimes thinking, “It’s too simplistic” or “He accepts groups working for peace and justice who advocated violence.” But isn’t that simply me looking for ways to avoid what he is saying?
I must say that his idea of non-violence comes across as very well thought out and solidly based on a vision that it is what Jesus taught us with the Sermon on the Mount.
He gives a wonderful explanation about how Jesus’ guidance to turn the other cheek if someone hits you, to give your cloak if someone takes your tunic and to walk two miles if someone forces you to walk one ,were designed to put the aggressor in a difficult situation based on the traditions and customs of that time.
The very base of that teaching is to love your enemies enough to let them hurt you in a way that will enable them to understand their error or to help society recognize their error.
For anyone interested in the causes of peace or justice I do recommend this book, God In All Things by Gerard W. Hughes.
Yes, it is indeed quite the coincidence that the three movies I saw on the plane and the book I’m reading all touch on the same idea, loving your enemies and forgiving them.