On peace and justice

On peace and justice
I‘m still re-reading Ronald Rolheiser’s The Holy Longing. I don’t agree with everything he writes — are there any authors you do? — but even though he clearly believes that engaging in justice is a key pillar of expressing our faith, he brilliantly describes a naiveté that often makes peace and justice groups ineffective. To do so, he describes six fallacies that I’ve either been guilty or have otherwise witnessed:

a. “The urgency of my cause is so great that it is okay in this instance for me to bracket the normal laws that govern public discourse. Hence I can be disrespectful, arrogant, and ugly toward those who oppose me.”

b. “Only the truth of the cause is important here, not my own private life. My own private life, whether it pertains to anger, sex, or envy, is of no relevance to the cause of justice for which I am fighting; in fact, all focus on private morality is a hindrance to working for justice.”

c. “Proper ideology alone can ground this quest — I don’t need talk of God and Jesus. I don’t need to pray for peace, I only need to work for it.”

d. “I judge success and failure on the basis of measurable political achievement. I am less interested in a long-range kingdom of God that in real short-term political and social gain.”

e. “I may exaggerate and distort the facts a bit to make the case for justice clearer, but the situation is so horrendous that I need not be very scrupulous about exact truth.”

f. “I am a victim and thus outside the rules!”


And goes on to write how even if we are politically effective, we will have won few hearts — and thus, it’s “essentially indistinguishable from the egoism, aggression, and injustice that it is trying to change.” Sober, but powerful, words.