Sunday, 9 December 2012

Life and Wisdom of St Benedict/ 25: Not to give a false peace

The twenty-fifth of the 'tools of good works' in Chapter 4 of St Benedict's Rule is 'not to give a false peace' (pacem falsam non dare).

This is perhaps one of the great temptations of our age, with its emphasis on the values of 'tolerance' and emphasis on the supposed virtue of 'niceness'.

These days we often presented with a sanitised version of Jesus who is always smiling, always happy, always 'gentle, meek and mild'.

The Gospels tell a different story:  they depict him as someone who is not afraid of showing his emotions: during his life he showed empathy for people and he wept.  But he could also appear intimidating such that the disciples were afraid to disturb him or ask him questions.   When the circumstances demanded it, he spoke harsh words.

To imitate Christ, in other words, requires genuineness, not the falseness that seeks to smooth things over when the real problem is yet unresolved...

1 comment:

R J said...

I want to thank you, Miss Edwards, in particular, for putting up this post about false peace. (Well, I want to thank you for your website in general, but for this posting especially.)

Perhaps Australians - whom Manning Clark credited, in one of his few intelligent remarks, with having created the first society in the annals of mankind which believes in literally nothing at all - are more prone than any other peoples to this false peace mania. I think of my American acquaintances where Catholics will quarrel with Protestants over doctrine (though no more vociferously than with other Catholics) and I realise, "At least these people are talking about ideas, not just making endless personality attacks as we seem to get in Australia."

But then, America has a bloody civil war and Pearl Harbor and 9/11 in its heritage, and Australia doesn't. Right now America has real poverty en masse, where the unofficial unemployment level is actually worse now than it was in the 1930s.

When I visited Detroit in 2008, the only jobs - literally the only jobs - for most young people laid off from blue-collar industry (and now that Motown Music has decamped, Detroit is blue-collar or it is nothing) were in the armed forces. It was not unknown for those young people to come back to Detroit in body-bags, as parish bulletins in a working-class Detroit parish during 2008 would attest.

Sometimes I (and possibly you) want to go out in the street wearing a sandwich board that screams the text of Jeremiah 8:11.