Sunday, May 5, 2013

Forsaking the Masquerade

Another late post. Another week where the planned topic crumbles, because it turns out to be nothing more than "ripped from the headlines" garbage. Another opportunity to forsake the meaningless noise in favor of something wonderful.

Two unrelated articles: a Washington Post feature on three peace activists who broke in to a nuclear weapons facility to stage a protest; a First Things commentary on our brave new digital world's desire to turn a profit from doing good. Two unrelated sets of people and causes, yet the latter offers up the key that allows me to make sense out of my discomfort with the former: "hype masquerading as idealism".

I know, how churlish of me. After all, I should admire those who risk death to call us to peace, especially an elderly nun. And yet, and yet … At the end of the day, what have those activists achieved, other than getting a security guard fired and the government to spend more money on protection for the very arsenal they denounced. As I wrote three weeks ago, we insanely chase a peace we will never catch, because the peace within our grasp demands things that are just too frightening to comprehend.

"Hype masquerading as idealism." It happens when we forget that after all the swords are turned into plowshares we can still kill one another with the farm tools. It happens when we forget that our lust for profit has caused much of the misery we are trying to alleviate with our good. It happens when we leave the fallout from our noble intentions as a mess for someone else to clean up. It happens when we are so eager to play a part in building our chosen utopia that we fail to see the fully constructed Kingdom in our midst. It happens far more often than we care to admit.

"Why are you so anguished? Life unfolds as it should. Stop and enjoy the process ... that is why you are here, that is why you were created."

We are an impatient species. We believe that love involves action. It is a dangerous combination, because oftentimes the action that love demands is internal, not external, especially in those moments when our animal instincts and our peers are urging us to hurry up and do something already. So what will we choose to unleash: a whirlwind or a gentle breeze? And whose guidance will we choose to trust?