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Violence... Love... Hate...

A few days ago I found myself becoming involved in an argument with a friend of long standing for whom I have great respect and not a little admiration.
It was one of those silly little differences of opinion, resulting from a misunderstood action on my part. Fortunately we parted still on friendly terms. However, for a short time time both of us had shown flashes of anger and intolerance which could have flared up into real dislike for each other, and could, perhaps, have led to a broken friendship.
Reflecting on this argument later on in the evening, I realised just how much we can all carry within us both violence and affection. We can be, and often are, the violent ones. We can be, and often are, the affectionate ones. However, love for others without affection is lifeless and without attraction.
One often hears it said these days, that there should be more discipline in schools and that those convicted of violence should he birched. In any attitude to violence and misbehaviour, which is going to be effective, there must be resistance to the emotional appeal of the big impersonal issues. There must be a willingness to be committed as persons to others in love and affection, remembering that love is patient - it looks for a way of being constructive. Love is not possessive, it is neither anxious to impress, nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.
"Love is not conceited, nor rude...' It has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy, it does not gloat over other people's misfortune. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope and its endurance."
All this , surely, has bearing on the ralial [sic - racial?] issues of our day; on the situation over in Northern Ireland; on our relations with social outcasts and those of anti-social behaviour. In fact it has bearing on every human situation in which tension and struggling and violence are present.
Of course love must be interpreted in social, political and personal terms: it must be incarnated. That is what the Christian Gospel is all about - the Incarnation - the demonstration of love. It always means crucifixion before Resurrection. We want the New Life - Resurrection, without suffering and death to the old ways - we are not going to get it!
Meeting violence with violence is not the way of being constructive. 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth' was the old way. Jesus came to show us the Right Way - the New Way, and it is the hard way, there is no doubt about that. There are, however, grave doubts about our ability to either take that hard way or even to want to take it. The choice is very hard.

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No sensible person wants to lose a friend. No sensible person wants to destroy a love. It sometimes takes a great deal of courage to admit our faults and to say 'I'm sorry'. It is often even more difficult to say 'I forgive'. Why should it always be so hard? The answer is always our own PRIDE and SELFISHNESS.
It may well be that you might like to express some comments on some of the points in this article. Well, why not write to the Editor and express your views? Letters and articles to the magazine are always welcome.
Richard Emerson.

 

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