John, at Ancient Hebrew Poetry, has had several powerful and deeply moving posts recently: On gender issues (this link is to part one of four); market forces, Sabbath and gender; on war. There are more, but these are the ones that have kept my mind and heart stirred up and pondering much over the past several weeks.
Today I read a response he gave in his comment section on the war post and it struck a chord in me that makes my heart cry and begin to find words for an aspect of arguments on heavy topics like this, which I have not been able to articulate.
We are touching on many topics at once: war, prison camps, torture; the prophets, “just war” thinking, and pacifism. It is not easy to address these matters without pain and tears taking over. I have not yet given voice to the amount of shame I feel about specific instances of war in the wake of eyes of suffering that have met mine on more than one occasion in my life. I will, and I will also continue to honor and seek to understand those whose choices and views are different from my own.
Thanks, John, for making space for and acknowledging the deep emotions that make discussions like this so important and also incredibly difficult.
There is so much wrong in the world, and righting it is so complex, multi-faceted and often full of other wrongs, that sometimes I feel paralyzed, both in having an opinion about what should be done and in actually doing something to make a difference. There are days when I feel like the only thing I have to offer is deeply feeling the shame, the pain, the suffering and letting my heart hurt.
It doesn’t seem like much. It certainly doesn’t make a difference for those caught up in the suffering, who don’t know me and haven’t a clue that my heart is breaking for them (very often the people my heart breaks for as I grieve the terrible wrongs carried out against them aren’t even alive). If I were in their shoes, I’d rather someone do something to change the realities causing me to suffer instead of sitting around being deeply sad for my situation. Even so, I let my heart break over injustice, because it’s all I know how to do. And I read and think and listen in on conversations like the one happening at Ancient Hebrew Poetry, in hopes that I find some way I can make a difference beyond my heart weeping.
But I think one important thing does happen when we stop and express the profound sorrow and heaviness of heart we feel for the real people affected by realities like this one on war–it unites us even when we disagree. Our arguments might be strong and extremely different. But something changes inside of me when I realize that someone who is arguing for the opposite viewpoint of mine is doing so because they share the same passion and concern and heartbreak that I do.
When connection like that happens and there is acknowledgement over the shared grief that makes us care so much about our own viewpoints on what is wrong and what needs to happen to right the wrong, I experience a flicker of hopefulness. It seems possible that, instead of unproductive polarization and insult-trading, good solutions might come from the collaboration of people with wildly opposing ideas, who care deeply about the same things.