Guest blogger: Ben Anderson
I was left dumbfounded and depressed sitting there at my desk. “Rape in War” was the topic for my feminist ethics course last week. As I finished my reading and was trying to think of how to write something philosophical about it I was overwhelmed by the stories and stats that show such an astounding capacity for evil in our world. Lost, I didn’t know what to say.
My heart hurt.
Outside of my time as a grad philosophy student I am equally hit with truth. As a community organizing intern I have been helping with listening sessions in schools on the west and south sides of Chicago. We have been talking to kids about problems in their neighborhood and helping them name and unravel the intricate systems and structures spinning good but mostly evil around us. Hearing the same things named over and over of problems out of control, again, my heart hurt.
How to keep going and make sense of a world where people endure so much?
I was given a quote from a brother Jesuit, Yves de Montcheuil, who was a philosophy professor who decided to become a chaplain to the French resistance during Nazi control and later was killed for it. He wrote from jail:
How will we remain in this spiritual atmosphere? By recalling the fundamental truths that must enlighten this commitment. We must first of all not forget that it is only a response to a call. It was not we who thought of it first; it was our Lord who called us to it. He can say to us as he did to his disciples on the evening of the Last Supper: “It was not you who chose me; it is I who chose you.” Left to ourselves, we would never have turned this way. We would have taken different routes according to our character, our inclinations, circumstances; we would never have taken that one, we would never have loved the Kingdom of God for itself.
God calls, but it is always too much. My weak heart never feels confident enough to really listen to others, to love and be loved, to write an intelligent enough paper, to pick-up the phone and organize, to keep stirring the pot again and again to agitate for justice… yet, somehow, I keep on doing it.
And much more: we are only following an inclination, an impulse given to us by grace. Our Lord not only shows us the road; he gets us to walk it. Our progress is always only an acceptance and, as it were, an abandonment to the impulse that he communicates to us. All that we give to him comes in reality from him.
I never really understand nor always like how I got here and through that God continually reminds me my life is not my own to do with what I will. My own gifts and weaknesses, the people who show up in my life, and the doses of reality that have been granted have moved and have pulled me to respond beyond what I ever thought possible. God is too good and keeps inviting me, one day at a time. It is too much, but God has got this. God is moving and working harder than me and I am not alone. When I stop and look around, when I take time to be grateful for the crazy people in my life, I see God is at work in every heart.
God has got this and that gives me hope.