If the storming of the Capital does not show us that relying on humans and human institutions to take care of our needs and hopes is an elusive wish, nothing will. It is not that we should not rely on the work of God through humanity. God does call us to cooperate with Him and to be His hands and feet, eyes and ears, and to speak out Truth. But if we don't have God in our lives, then we can hardly know how to do God's work.
God works through us and our actions and despite what we may think, God allowed what happened yesterday to happen. After all, God has the power to stop it. Meaning, there is a purpose in God allowing the actions of yesterday's rioting. Maybe one of those purposes is to get us all on the same page. Maybe it was to get us to see that a great majority of people can come to an agreement on a truth.
Most everyone who spoke of the storming of the Capital by Trump supporters, or whoever they were, came to the same conclusion I did. It was wrong! Isn't it interesting that it takes extreme circumstances like this one to recognize that a great majority of people can come to the same conclusion, no matter what side you are on? But what is also interesting is that we see that Truth, we come to the same conclusions, even though we have diametrically opposed views.
Nearly every commentator on the news media, be they from conservative, mainstream or liberal sources, all came to the same conclusion; our democracy, our security and our nation is in peril. There were none that I heard that said, yes this rioting and destruction of property in the Capital was a good and necessary thing. What I did hear, however, were different justifications for coming to the same conclusion.
For example I heard, this was a terrible way for conservatives to make a statement, but we can't blame them for storming the Capital, they were frustrated at the inaction and the blind eye given to the corruption of the election. Others concluded, if we can't accept violence on the opposing side, we can't be hypocritical and accept violence on our side either. Still others said, it was because of President Trumps refusal to see the truth, his lies, and his inciting of his followers that this evil was done. And others concluded that no matter what side you fell on, this incident was wrong and was likely caused by the missteps of people both on the political right and the left.
A Catholic deacon, and in fact all Christians, are called to speak as a prophetic voice. A prophet is someone who speaks the word or truth of God. Of course we are not God and shouldn't pretend to be. In all of my formation to become a deacon, in my learning theology through college and in my self-study, I was taught to teach as best I could the truth of God's will in our lives. We teach that Truth first of all by being an example to others. If we do speak, whether among friends, in a teaching environment or through preaching, the words we speak need to be thought through and prayed about beforehand. But there was another and more important thing I was called to do … listen.
Good listening takes a great deal of discipline and practice. Listening is not about hearing the literal words that come from a person's mouth and then interpreting those words alone as the message. Often people say things they don't mean either because they don't have the wherewithal to express themselves properly or because of an emotional state that precludes them from saying what they mean. Sometimes that emotional state entices them to say things they don't mean. How often have parents told their children when they are angry, I'm going to kill you!
We live in a very emotional time in our history as a nation and the world for that matter. People are acting out and saying things they probably wouldn't otherwise. Further, too often because we are so sure and so stuck in our own belief systems, or because of our own selfish needs and desires, we don't actually "hear" what is being said. We don't really listen to "hear" the frustrations or the needs or desires of others. We jump to conclusions based on self-serving motivation. We want to be right so we take out of context that message that people so desperately want to convey and never really get to the heart of the issue. We never really understand why this person has come to the conclusion they have.
The only way out of this dilemma is to, with all good intent, listen. We may come to the conclusion that this person is acting out of a desire for power, wealth, honor or pleasure. And in those cases and in as loving a way we can muster, we need to call them out. But often those desires for self-satisfaction stem from a greater need that is not fully recognized by the individual or group. As Christians our task is to get to the root of that need and direct people towards that which will satisfy their need. In the political arena, most often the issue is one of justice, what is fair. And most often our disagreements stem from how to bring about that justice. Our task as Christians is to get people to realize that true justice cannot be born out of self-serving needs, rather, justice is born out of love, or desiring the good of other.
I would bet that 90% of people could come to a common truth that 90% of people would agree with. Just like 90% of the people who saw and heard what was happening in Washington agreed that the storming of the Capital was intrinsically evil. And if we can get that far, we can then begin to fix the problems of our nation and the world.
The optimistic and faithful side of me says the incident that happened in Washington, as terrible as it was, will ultimately bring a good to our society, this nation, and the world. One good that it has already brought is what seems like a rarity these days - we actually agree on something. That means we can take that common agreement and build on it by coming together with all good intent, listening to each other, and recognizing that for the most part we all want the same thing … liberty and justice for all!