Getting Angry

At a recent Sunday service one of my friends prayed, “I am SO angry about the violence in this world”.

I am too.

I am angry that I discovered this horrendously long list when I thought to see how many ongoing armed conflicts there are. In this global age, when the world is becoming smaller, I am mad at myself for not being more aware.

I am angry that there is footage available on the internet of men being beheaded.

I am angry that too much violence is overlooked or underreported because it is happening to people who aren’t considered newsworthy.

I am angry that it is so easy to become desensitized to violence and the grave consequences of it.

I am angry about the violence that we inflict on one another with words instead of weapons.

I’m not sure what to do with this anger, except to turn it around and consider ways to promote its opposite. I believe that we have all been called to love our neighbour. Loving our neighbour does not mean that we always agree, nor is it easy. In fact, sometimes it feels close to impossible. Loving is a choice that requires patience, communication, and yes, the willingness to turn the other cheek.

I was reminded of this kind of love when my friend, full of prayerful honest rage, hesitantly agreed to have me pass her the stole we use and close the service with a benediction:

“God, even though I’m angry, be with us. Bless us. Help us to love.”

War Resister

Kimberly Rivera is my friend and one who came to refer to me as sister (and I her). She fled to Canada as a War Resister, or “Conscientious Objector” five years ago. Today she was separated from her husband and four children having been ordered deported. She will more than likely spend time in jail.

Tonight the tears are flowing.

My plan this afternoon was to attend the peaceful demonstration in support of Kim in downtown Toronto. Instead I found myself gathered with a small group in the yard of a school where Kim said goodbye. I crawled under a play structure where her eldest was hiding to tell him I loved him. He had on a home-made cape and looked every bit a 10-year-old. One sad, amazingly stoic boy.

Tonight I want to set aside the politics of this.

Instead I want to re-imagine the day when all will be made right in this world. The day when people will “hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.” (Isaiah). I want to cling to my faith that God’s kingdom is going to be fully ushered in and every tear will be dried.

Tonight I want to ask for peace. And mercy.

We are invited to be a people of forgiveness. The plank in my own eye is far bigger than the speck in yours. I want us to dare to choose a way that doesn’t involve picking up arms (using rifles or harsh words) to settle our disputes. I inwardly groan for something different.

Tonight I pray:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. (St. Francis)

Oh, my friends, pray for Kim and everyone close to her. And if you don’t pray, send healing thoughts. I know this situation incites strong feelings on all sides and is deeply complicated. Tonight though think of the woman whose longing is for peace, her husband, and the community she leaves behind.

Tonight think of the boy in the cape and his three siblings.