can I get a witness?

I have recently been considering
the depravity of human beings—
not sure what else to name
the evil we do to one another,
and that we condone
in accepting the way things are.

I know.
That’s always been the case.
Traced back to greed—
to selfishness,
an insecurity about one’s property or person,
a disregard for another’s property or person—
always an expression of violence—
fear behind most of it.
Nothing new.
I’ve just recently been overwhelmed

with innocents injured by bombs
at the finish line of a popular marathon in a major city,
and at a wedding party in a remote village,
with elementary age school children shot in their classrooms—
and in their homes—and at a parade,
with women held captive and tortured for years,
with a garment factory collapsing on hundreds of workers,

with our culture prioritizing individuals’ rights
to the point of even indulging individually claimed views of reality,
with our culture ignoring any questions about the belief
that violence done by us makes the world safer,
with our culture’s objectification and degradation of women,
with our culture’s dismissal of the costs of making profit—

and with our culture’s absolute unwillingness
to consider the implications of its assumptions
(which is, just to be explicit,
the direct correlation between the last two paragraphs).

So what of any theological affirmation of original blessing—
of an innate God-given goodness?
Does that hold any kind of integrity,
or falter utterly in face of circumstance and experience?

And I hear the questions:
what does love do in the face of such evil?
How does love prevent such atrocities?
How does love keep us safe?
Do you really want, in this world, to trust love?

I hear those questions.
I ask them.

What does love do?
Maybe nothing.
May be the wrong question.
What is love in the face of evil?
Because love is not a plan to implement
based on who the other is,
but a consistency of being in relation
regardless of the other—
with, at the very least,
a shared sense of reality because of that.

How does love prevent such atrocities?
How does love keep us safe?
Well, according to my read of the Gospels and Acts,
it doesn’t.
Oh, it might lead to more balanced lives,
to that sense of others being a part of reality,
to more respect for the others,
but again, wrong question.
For it’s rather up to us to keep love safe.

Love is entrusted to us,
and we keep it safe in our world
by standing in testimony—
as witness to another way.
It’s not strategic. Not even wise.
Certainly not safe.
But most certainly against hyper-individualism.
Against atrocities.
Against violence.
Against fear.

Do you really want, in this world, to trust love?
Well, that is the question.
Hear/here the affirmation:
I choose this story of love and grace.
I do not adapt stories to ever changing circumstance.
I do not “do what is necessary.”
I do not seize the opportunity
(well, I do, honestly, all of that,
but that’s my fault,
not my faith).

And my affirmation of innate goodness—
of the blessing of being created in the image of God,
does not discount—
does not deny or underestimate the pain of brokenness
and the power of brokenness
to shape in its image.

And while I do believe in the possibility and the power
of transformation,
I do not claim the power to fix what’s broken,

just the power to name it as broken—
to pick up the pieces
and love them,
and love the whole they once were—
and may one day be again—

the story I choose,
the story I trust—
entrusted to me—
to which I entrust my living.


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