|UNIV. OF PITTSBURGH ORATORY|
EARLY MORNING, FROM SECOND FLOOR WINDOW
OF THE GAILLIOT CENTER FOR NEWMAN STUDIES
I’ve been reading a book called The Lucifer Effect, about how “systems” come into being. Naziism is a system. Capitalism is a system. In our culture we have the legal system, the prison system, the economic system, the military system. Author Philip Zombardo orchestrated the notorious Stanford Prison Study, which separated folks into prisoners and guards and had to be called off after a week because the guards had become so brutally sadistic. Everyone was traumatized and after that, they were more careful about what kind of psychological experiments were run.
In a system, everybody foists responsibility upon everyone else. We follow along and next thing we know, it's kill or be killed, torture or be tortured. Not everyone will participate in cruelty but apparently a whole lot of people will. Personally I'm so afraid of ridicule, so prone to bow to peer pressure, so desirous of being wanted, needed, and loved that I fear for myself in systems. I like to think I wouldn't have been a sadistic guard, but who knows?
Zombardo features several whistle-blowers. He points out the extent to which Joe Darby, the guy who blew the whistle on Abu Ghraib was vilified, nowhere more than inside the military. So that's scary, but have you ever tried to blow the whistle in your own family? To say, for instance, "I love you but you're not welcome here when you've been drinking" Or "If you hit me again, I'm going to call the police" or "That's not okay to speak to me in that tone of voice"?
My own family blew the whistle on me back in '86. We notice your drinking, they said in so many words. It's affecting us. I didn't like it any more than people like whistle-blowing in the corporate boardroom or the military. And it saved my life.
Still, is there any system harder, or maybe initially harder, to stand up to than our families? Is there anywhere harder to break the often generations-old cycle of psychological violence, ridicule, intimidation, passive-aggression, getting even, having to be right, showing people who's boss, bullying, than with the people closest to us?
To in one way or another say I'm not going to be the Rescuer, the Fixer, the Caretaker, the Victim, the Scapegoat, the Clown, shifts the whole system in which we were raised. Jesus was detaching with love from the "family system" even as a kid. Even as a kid, he was saying I love you, I honor you, but "Did you not know I must be about my Father's business?"...
It takes tremendous, tremendous courage to speak truth to power. Christ spoke truth to political power, ecclesiastical power, economic power, social power, the power of the family, which may be the strongest power of all. And of course ‘they’—meaning we—killed him.
Love thine enemies.
Love one another as I have loved you.
How many times must we forgive? As many as seven times? "No, seventy times seven"...
This sense of the hostile is something animals have, and it reaches as far as their vulnerability. Creatures are so ordered that the preservation of the one depends on the destruction of the other.
This is also true of fallen man, deeply enmeshed in the struggle for existence. he who injures me or takes something valuable from me is my enemy, and all my reactions of distrust, fear, and repulsion rise up against him. I try to protect myself from him, and am able to do this best by constantly reminding myself of his dangerousness, instinctively mistrusting him, and being prepared at all times to strike back....
Here forgiveness would mean first that I relinquish the clear and apparently only sure defense of natural animosity; second, that I overcome fear and risk defenselessness, convinced that the enemy can do nothing against my intrinsic self....
But the crux of the matter is forgiveness, a profound and weighty thing. Its prerequisite is the courage that springs from a deep sense of intimate security, and which, as experience has proved, is usually justified, for the genuine pardoner actually is stronger than the fear-ridden hater.
|ST. ,MARIA GORETTI|
|ST. THERESE OF LISIEUX|
|ST. GEMMA GELGANI|
THESE ARE ALL FROM A SIDE CHAPEL IN
ST. PAUL OF THE CROSS MONASTERY/RETREAT HOUSE/CHURCH
SOUTH SIDE, PITTSBURGH
THANK YOU, FR. JOE!