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Archive for April 2nd, 2022

Our Shared Humanity

MEDITATION:

Written by Desmond Tutu (1931-2021), a South African Anglican bishop and theologian who worked as an anti-apartheid and human rights activist) and his daughter Mpho Tutu. This is an excerpt from their book “The Book of Forgiving.”

Ultimately, forgiveness is a choice we make, and the ability to forgive others comes from the recognition that we are all flawed and human. We all have made mistakes and harmed others. We will again. We find it easier to practice forgiveness when we can recognize that the roles could have been reversed. Each of us could have been the perpetrator rather than the victim. Each of us has the capacity to commit the wrongs against others that were committed against us. Although I might say, “I would never…” genuine humility will answer, “Never, say never.” Rather say, “I hope that, given the same set of circumstances, I would not…” But can we ever really know?  No person will always stand in the camp of the perpetrator. No person will always be the one who is the victim. In some situations, we have been harmed, and in others we have harmed. And sometimes we straddle both camps, as when, in the heat of a marital spat, we trade hurts with our partners. Not all harms are equivalent, but this is really not the issue. Those who wish to compare how much they have wronged to how much they have been wronged will find themselves drowning in a whirlpool of victimization and denial. Those who think they are beyond reproach have not taken an honest look in the mirror. People are not born hating each other and wishing to cause harm. It is a learned condition. Children do not dream of growing up to be rapists or murderers, and yet every rapist and every murderer was once a child. And there are times when I look at some of those who are described as “monsters” and I honestly believe that there, but for the grace of God, go I. I do not say this because I am some singular saint. I say this because I have sat with condemned men on death row. I have spoken with former police officers who have admitted inflicting the cruelest torture, I have visited child soldiers who have committed acts of nauseating depravity, and I have recognized in each of them a depth of humanity that was a mirror of my own. Forgiveness is truly the grace by which we enable another person to get up, and get up with dignity, to begin anew. To not forgive leads to bitterness and hatred. Like self-hatred and self-contempt, hatred of others gnaws away at our vitals. Whether hatred is projected out or stuffed in, it is always corrosive to the human spirit.

PRAYER:

Written by Cheryce Rampersad, a contemporary Christian author.

Father, bless me with the wonderful power of forgiveness. Give me the grace to unconditionally forgive those who have done me wrong. Give me the strength to let go of all ill-will, to forgive myself of my own failings and sins, knowing that you have already forgiven me.

MUSIC MEDITATION:

Lord, I Want To Be a Christian   Performed by The Moses Hogan Chorale.

This spiritual may have originated in Virginia in the 1750s, based on this story from Hanover Virginia:  “A black slave asked Presbyterian preacher William Davies, ‘I come to you, sir, that you may tell me some good things concerning Jesus Christ and my duty to God, for I am resolved not to live anymore as I have done…I want to be a Christian.”

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