Throughout the history of humankind people have differentiated themselves from one another for various reasons. Unfortunately instead of celebrating these differences they have mostly been reprimanded and there was no acceptance or understanding leaving those people deemed ‘different’ excluded. Think about all the differentiations which we make and focus on in our daily life in the U.S. today: gender differences, ethnicity differences, spirituality differences, citizenship status differences, sexual orientation differences, ability differences, economic status differences, political party differences, and the list could go on. All of the differentiation have been made for exclusionary purposes by those ‘with the power’ and have created a sort of stratification system for people within all these categories so that some are ‘best or morally right’ while others are ‘worst or morally wrong’. This is a violent way to live and it is not the way to bring about the reign of our loving God. This violence is evident in the U.S. today and I personally find it unacceptable. I also take responsibility in my own life and look to see who I judge and discriminate against and work to change this in my heart and mind.
When we differentiate to discriminate against another we are not living as Jesus did nor carrying out the Good news of the Gospel. When people are hurting, dying, and families are being broken apart or other harms come into their lives because of discrimination then there is a major problem that needs to be changed and fixed. It is affecting all of us in the worst way no matter if you are at the ‘top of the hierarchy and deemed best or better’ or you’re deemed ‘lower’ in the stratification system. We all suffer on multiple levels when so much violence occurs.
Those in leadership or with power keep giving excuses and try to justify the madness and then the rest of us follow suit. To be sure, there is a myriad of people with power even beyond those in actual leadership who further perpetuate the justifications too. However, this is exactly where the narrative has to change. There can be no more, and as far as I am concerned, there are no more excuses and justifications. It is affecting our Churches, nations, states, and cities, and our Religious Congregations here and around the world.
In his book, “The Different Drum,” on Community Making and Peace, M. Scott Peck, says, “Genuine community is always characterized by integrity,” (p. 234). He goes on to note that when “discerning the presence or absence of integrity, you need to ask only one question. What is missing? Has anything been left out?” (p.236). When we truthfully begin to look at these questions as individuals and communities we will be able to honestly answer them.
When our Congregations gather for any event, it is generally easy to see who is missing and/or left out. We have to honestly answer these questions not only our future, but for the present moment too. The vocation team in St. Paul, recently asked all the Vocation ministers to examine how racism is affecting our vocation ministries. I am grateful for the question. I think we need to ask that question for every committee we have as a Congregation and for everything we do or plan on doing—who is missing or who is left out? And Why? For they will also be left out of what is being planned. The answers to these questions are not for one person or a select few to answer. They are something for all of us as a community to answer together.
Since I am a faith-filled person living in a religious community as a sister, I have hope that we can be vulnerable together, work through this and be able to walk with integrity into the future. I know this is hard work to do and I know there is resistance to this work because it makes us uncomfortable and it takes more time and energy. However, this is what we must do and continue to do in order to bring about the reign of our loving God. God made each of us unique and different for a reason and loves each of us the same. So let’s change the narrative together and really start to celebrate our differences. It’s the only way Peace can begin to flourish in our hearts and in our world.
Peace on the journey fellow pilgrim, S. Clare Bass, CSJ.