Unbelievable but 2020 is “behind” us and the world sighs. We would like to sigh from relief but there is a present sense that the feeling of relief is still ways off. Yes, 2020 is finished sequentially as ‘chronos‘ but not qualitatively as ‘kairos‘. If we think and speak of the critical or opportune moment for doing the right, consequential thing, then we are still in the very thick of it. This “moment” or whatever it is, it is not just a blip. The processes and trends, which got highlighted, brought to the surface or made mainstream during this year of global crisis, are not going anywhere. Just because we turned the page in our calendar.
It is not even a shadow which 2020 already casts over 2021. It is a realization that we have many companions who are not going to disappear. For many (individuals, communities, nations) it is the ghosts of the unredeemed or unremembered past who are refusing to go back to their shallow graves. For others those are the Christmas spirits who are bringing the revelation or apocalyptic shaking but these voices are here to stay. (Last night I watched again the timeless tale of Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge)
What are we to do? What kind of people do we want to be? What kind of world do we want to live in? And most importantly, how to live together?
First answer seems simple – we need to face this reality. But the fact is that we struggling to find, restore and accept Truth about our past, present and possible future. Second suggestion, expressed by many people much wiser and insightful than me, is equally hard – to find the tools and resources for ‘bridging the divide’ in polarized families, fellowships and societies, ‘holding the fort’ where necessary and being brave and patient because it will be a difficult long haul.
Recently I heard a great conversation with Karen Murphy, an American educator and civic activist who works with educational programs in divided societies with identity-based conflicts. She was describing some of her workshops and how participants find meaningful, symbolic tools for the long haul journey of restoring trust in individual and communal relationships. As we know, there cannot be relationships without trust.
In the next few months I will post my reflections on some of the ‘tools’ picked by the people who have done their home work and wrestled with these hard questions. Such as ‘a mirror’ which means that I have to look at myself, ‘a flashlight’ to show me the way in the fog and the dark, ‘a book’ to teach me deeper insight and knowledge, ‘a candle’ to sustain the hope…
What better signpost to start this new year and the new season of ‘peaceroads’ than the words of Martin Luther King: “We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”