Some thirty years ago I discovered the Prayer of St. Francis, popularized in a Christian song often being sung at that time. And I was blown away since the words seemed to me so pertinent. As one susceptible to being misrepresented I was challenged, for example, by the idea it is better to understand than be understood, as well as the notion of letting the Lord make me a channel of His Peace.
A few years later, I recall after Margaret Thatcher had just won the General Election, she quoted that prayer, much to the dismay of some arguing that rather than sowing love she had inspired hatred. My purpose is not to defend or otherwise Thatcher any more than I would (and have done so) Trump, who if I accept the rhetoric of many of my news feeds earlier today is also guilty of hate mongering e.g. to do with a migrant column trying to enter the USA from the South, letter bombs recently sent to prominent liberals and the shooting at a Pittsburgh Jewish synagogue. This hate rhetoric is being raised elsewhere, e.g. locally with, so it is claimed, far right posters being posted, nationally with the latest on Tommy Robinson and internationally with Brazil electing a far right president. I am mindful that often, by way of corrective, and because I believe there is as much hate, if not more, generated by anti-Trumpers, leftie liberals etc., I have a tendency to throw in my own take on what is going on, which whatever our view as is to origin, is unwelcome.
When challenged on Trump’s rhetoric when he calls out people who oppose him, I often point out that his approach is not one I condone and given it can inspire a hateful response by certain of his followers may be unwise and does not meet my TNK (true, necessary, kind) criteria. But then I see him responding to wrongs done to him or being inflicted upon the people he had been elected to serve, but then again something my own dad tried to install in me growing up: two wrongs do not make a right should also apply. So let it be made clear, even though I should not need to make the point, acts of hatred, whether instigated by those on the left or the right or any other direction are to be firmly opposed. While on the subject of hate, I should also mention something that is often related: fear. I don’t believe it is right for anyone to have to live in fear, especially when the legacy to the followers of the Lord St. Francis prayed to was His Peace, but then again I don’t believe anyone should have to live in ignorance concerning the truth; I don’t believe free speech should be suppressed because it doesn’t fit the narrative and in the light of the rise in (far right, please define) popularism, I don’t believe it is right to pander to peoples’ worst fears and prejudices.
So it is back to the prayer of St. Francis, which really says it all when it comes to how best to respond. If more people prayed that prayer, following it through by action, we would see radical positive change.
Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life