I've been a priest for 39 years now, and one of the things I've learned--sometimes the 'hard way'--is that often the best thing to do is nothing.
People always want priests to 'do something' about things in the parish--relationships, opinions, ideas, lots of stuff. And I've learned (often the 'hard way') that sometimes 'doing nothing' does something.
Like today, the Supreme Court chose, quietly and without comment, to refuse to hear a whole group of appeals against lower court orders to overrule several states' bans against same sex marriage.
In 'doing nothing' the Supreme Court mad same sex marriage legal in a bunch of states. In fact, because they did nothing, same sex marriage is now legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia. By doing nothing, the Court made it almost certain that eventually all 50 states will allow marriage between both heterosexual and homosexual couple, as, so far as I'm concerned, is the way it should be.
I was talking to the 20-something clerk in the package store I frequent about the silence of the Court that did so, so much.
She shook her blond head at me and said, "if you don't believe in gay marriage, don't have a gay marriage...who cares?"
We reached the almost in grasp equality of GLBTQ folks so much faster and with so much less drama that the Civil Rights for Blacks movement took hold. In the Civil Rights movement, the Supreme Court had to act or nothing would have happened. In the right for same sex marriage, the Court's doing nothing has worked....
I once had two psychologists, both ordained, on my staff. We had lots of disagreements about what was going on in the parish. They were both, by temperament and training, 'interventionists'. I, on the other hand, was someone who ignored anything until it was brought up to me by someone involved in it.
My theory was, most problems, if you leave them be, will resolve themselves by themselves.
I still believe that. Sometimes, doing nothing, does something....
Part of me wishes the Supreme Court would have heard the cases and upheld the lower courts decisions so this would all be over once and for all.
But another part of me, the part that has guided my ministry and life all along, things 'doing nothing' might have been the best thing to do. The whole marriage equality issue has a momentum of it's own. Just stepping back and letting that momentum continue might be the best way to react.
The non-interventionist strategy has worked almost all the time for me. I might see a problem, but until someone involved in the problem asks me to step in, I don't. And most of the time, it works itself out without me involved.
The Universe, it seems to me, longs to find balance. Intervening in the moment of imbalance might just throw the Universe off kilter.
I never want to be responsible for something so important.
So, I'll 'do nothing' most of the time because 'doing nothing' most of the time 'does something'.
Like let the Universe right itself and get in balance.
Something like that. Not bad stuff....
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