Sunday, November 22, 2015


I haven't written about the attacks in Paris over a week ago now. I simply needed time to get my head around it a bit and to ponder my thoughts on it.

Nathan Ives preached today on the Feast of Christ the King about 'power'. What is really power and what is false power. Or, as we in the Mastery Foundation would put it--there is a distinction between 'power' and 'force'. Force is something you 'do' as the terrorists did in Paris. Power is something you have, something you be in the world. Nathan did a good job.

"Knee jerk reaction" is a term the President and many others have used about the reaction of 30 governors and most of the Republican Presidential Candidates have had to the Paris tragedy as they call for a 'pause' (interesting word) in the assimilation of Syrian refugees into the United States.

When I go for my annual physical, Dr. Olsen takes a tiny metal hammer and hits me on the knee and my leg jerks. 'Force' makes knee's jerk. A hammer causes a reaction. Hence, "knee-jerk-reaction". That's what 'force' causes--a sudden, automatic response to the application of 'force'.

And that's just what all those people who now oppose Syrian immigrants have done--had a sudden, automatic response to 'force'.

Power is different. Power isn't something you do: it is something you possess, something you 'be' in the world. Here's what has power: love, compassion, reasonableness, welcome and discretion.

Paris 'happened'. Force overcame rationality and safety and freedom. People were killed for no reason except to kill people. Some of the attackers blew themselves up just to kill people--and their selves, by the way. There is no way to reason with people willing to kill themselves simply to kill others. Innocent people had their blood mingled with the blood of a suicide bomber.

That amount of 'force' against the knee of our mind causes a huge jerk. I get that. But mindless murder is an 'act', not a way of 'being'.

Paris, and what happened there, has nothing to do with the other victims of terror--those fleeing Syria and other places because of war, murder, force and brutality.

What we as individuals and as a nation need to seek is the power of love, compassion, reasonableness, welcome and discretion.

What some (maybe a majority of Americans) are saying about those seeking liberty and hope by coming to Western Europe and North America (risking their lives to do so), should make the Statue of Liberty lay down her light and sink into New York harbor.

What we need to find is our Power--our compassion and love and welcome and reasonableness--instead of being overwhelmed by our fear of 'force'. Force, in the end, can and will take life--but only Power can 'give' life and give it in abundance.

Be powerful, not forceful. It makes all the difference. It transforms us from death dealers to life givers.

And that's what we're called to, even in the face of the force of hatred and violence, to 'give life'

That's authentic 'power'.

Seek it. Be it. Live it.

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.