A Soulforce Response to these Tragic Days

From Mel White

The religious "right" has won. Or at the very least, they are winning. Our worst fears are being realized. They've ruined Mr. Clinton and are about to end his presidency. While at the same time, the nation's robust economy is in chaos. It's exactly what they've hoped and prayed for. Isn't that ironic.

Now, all their "prophecies" can come true.

They will say that God is punishing the nation for its sinfulness. They will say that turning to God is the nation's only hope. They are sincere, but they are sincerely wrong.

For their god is a graceless, angry, intolerant, mean-spirited god, The fundamentalist god who will "purify the nation" through their temporary reign. And with the fall of Clinton and the potential collapse of the world's economy, their reign is in sight. Now, comes the opportunity to find scapegoats for the world's woes. We are it, the first of many. The purge will begin slowly. In fact, it has already begun. They've set the stage with full page ads, mass mailings, tv and radio jeremiads.

They've said that we are sick and sinful, That we threaten the family, undermine the nation's values. And at least half the nation has been confused by their false and inflammatory rhetoric. Now we will see what they really meant by loving the sinner and hating the sin.

Under their reign, the intolerance will be carried out with a sad smile and a knowing nod. They will exercise their power to end our rights. They will do their best to drive us back into our closets. If not worse. So, how do we respond?

Soulforce, satyagraha, the relentless nonviolent resistance of Jesus, Gandhi, King.

Soulforce is our one real hope. To acquiesce, to go silently into that dark night, is not an option. To respond in violence will only lead to more suffering and more death.

Jesus shows us the better way. It is the way we have proclaimed but never really had to follow. Love your enemies, he said, without condition, without apology, without footnote.

It is the way of the cross and of the empty tomb. It is the way of weakness that is in fact strength. It is the way of failure that is in fact success. It is the way of suffering and death but more it is the way of resurrection.

Gandhi and King were personally transformed by Jesus' way.

They turned the principles of the Sermon on the Mount into practice. They trained Soulforce volunteers in those principles and took to the streets. They didn't dress in white and go up into the mountains to wait for their deliverance.

They didn't mourn the overwhelming odds. They didn't rush back into the safety of their closets. Nor did they arm themselves and go to war. They waged the war of love and they died. But just before they died, they lived. And in their living the world saw "the way" and were stunned by it. We cannot win the anti-homosexual battles about to be waged in the Congress or the Courts; though we must fight them.

We cannot stem the tide of anti-homosexual laws, ballot initiatives, and constitutional amendments; though we must try.

We cannot stop the anti-homosexual rhetoric that leads to suffering and death; though we must answer it with truth in love relentlessly. But we can win the war by out-loving our enemies wherever we face them. And the enemies we must love include the "religious right."

Loving them means bringing them the truth...lovingly, relentlessly. Loving them means standing up to their untruth... unafraid and unashamed. Loving them means refusing to hate them for the violence that flows out of their campaign against us or to retaliate in kind.

Loving them means forgiving them before they ask. Loving them means seeing them as we see ourselves, children of a loving God, members of the same human family, our sisters and our brothers. Out-loving our enemies will change the minds and the hearts of the nation,

One heart and one mind at a time. It is time to call our community to learn and practice Soulforce. It is time to train ourselves in relentless nonviolent resistance.

It is time to take Jesus' talk of love seriously again for the first time. It is time to hear his voice, And the voice of Gandhi and King, Bonhoeffer and Dorothy Day, of Chavez and Romero. At last, the options are clear.

Now, we must decide. Will we take him seriously, take them seriously?

Will we walk in the way of our heroes and sheroes? Or will we, like the rich young man, turn away sorrowing, Holding on to what we have and in the process losing everything we ever dreamed?


Mel White can be reached at RevMel@aol.com 

©1998 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.