Minute Meditations

Breaking the Cycle of Pain

When we know we’re not really transforming culture, we’re not really changing the world, we’re not really having a great deal of influence at the higher levels, we move to the level of micromanagement. We find some little tiny world where we can be in control and right, where we can be pure and clean. We might as well be saying, “I can’t clean up the world, so at least I’m going to clean up my living room,” or “I cannot really change and influence people, so I am going to demand total conformity from the pulpit.” Many of us act out some version of this. I empty all my wastebaskets. It’s stupid, it doesn’t make a bit of sense, but at least I feel like I am doing something. I can’t change the church, but I can empty my wastebaskets and something’s right inside my office. Faith, however, allows us to hold the tension until we can recognize the true evil—of which we are a part. That’s foundational to all compassionate and nonviolent thinking. To attack the person out there is usually to simply continue the problem, because he or she is a victim too. The reason people do evil—why they hate, sin, or make mistakes—is because at some point they have been hurt, rejected, excluded, or wounded. They just keep passing it on, and the cycle repeats and spreads. Jesus, you could say, came to break, and even stop, the cycle. Punitive behavior only continues the same old game and, I am afraid, most of the church itself has yet to understand this. We still think it is about forcing conformity instead of seeking true interior transformation. We would rather punish and coerce a response. God is much more patient.

— from The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder by Richard Rohr, OFM



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