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Monday, 28 August 2017 20:47

Scapegoats and Nonviolence

Written by Joe Hastings
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Joe Hastings  – Returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner

Creating scapegoats is something societies do over and over again to keep from addressing real fears and injustices. It never really solves any problem, but just continues the cycle of violence, covering it up with a thin disguise, a lie of legitimacy.

Jesus calls us to expose the lie by witnessing to the truth. What truth, you might ask. Pilate asked the same question, even though Jesus has just given him the answer:

Everyone who follows the truth listens to my voice.

We start now by listening to the voices of those being made scapegoats and standing with them. Speaking the truth with them, sometimes for them. We, people of faith with the worldly means of resources, time, and connections, have to join them in speaking the truth.

We have to speak the truth and say:

  • We are first and foremost members of God’s one human family. That identity unites us all.
  • We—almost all of us—are from families of immigrants, either those who came by choice or those forced immigrants brought here by slavery.
  • We have crime here in America, but being an immigrant is not a crime! Being an immigrant without documents is not a matter of national security; it’s a matter of paperwork.
  • When refugees flee war—whether in Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine, or the Congo—we welcome them, no matter who dropped the bombs on their homeland.
  • We believe in the Kingdom of God, which means we want a world where everyone can find a safe home and work with dignity and a peaceful future in their own country, but when they cannot find those things at home, we welcome them here, into our home.
  • We want a bright future for all children, even if the children are escaping gangs in El Salvador and Honduras.
  • We, as Christians share much in faith with Muslims, and we want to build a better future together with them, not apart from them.
  • Some of us who are white have to admit that it’s not easy to unlearn racism, to let go of privilege, to learn to thrive in solidarity with all our neighbors. But it’s worth the effort, because it’s the path to becoming who we are called to be—a people who live their faith in solidarity, not isolation nor competition.
  • We have to speak the message that there is no “them” from which to draw scapegoats. There is only us.
  • We know that this message is NOT going to be easy to speak, either in word or in deed. There is conflict today in our society, and there will be more. It seems like violence is creeping upward. But violence is not the cure for our broken world. Our path, our WAY must be nonviolent.

The Romans nailed a scapegoat to the cross, and our world continues to crucify scapegoats—to label them, arrest them, sentence them, imprison or deport them, and kill them. When we listen to the voice on the cross, we hear a call to take scapegoats down from the cross, wherever we can, using active nonviolence to guide us.

We’re asked to renew our commitment to nonviolence, and to put that commitment to use today in our society full of conflict, in our world full of violence. Pope Francis writes, “I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence.” Maryknoll Affiliates, we must salute and follow his leadership.

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Read 886 times Last modified on Tuesday, 29 August 2017 15:27
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