Carl McColman offers a reflection that weaves together the recent shootings in Aurora (USA) and the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine, the latter being a profound story told in the incredibly moving film Of God’s and Men, my “movie of 2011” (I reflected on it here).
Here’s the closing section of McColman’s reflection:
“…The monks did not ask to be in the middle of a civil war; but finding themselves there, they knew that running away would solve nothing. They offered their hospitality to both government loyalists and the rebels, trusting in God that their silent witness to peace might make a difference, however slight, in the interest of peace. Likewise, we who find ourselves in an increasingly violent society can learn from their witness. You and I cannot singlehandedly solve the problems in our society, any more than the monks could broker a cease-fire in Algeria. But we can, and do, make a difference. We need to reflect on whether the difference we make is positive or negative. Are we advocates of hatred and fear in our attitudes toward the entertainment industry, the gun lobby, or people who kill? Do we make social or political choices based on love and trust, or on anger and hostility? Are we committed to revenge, or reconciliation? Do we know how to mourn the dead and wounded in ways that truly honor them, without demonizing those who directly or indirectly caused their suffering? What steps can we take in our lives to foster values that make life truly worth living: values such as friendship, hope, trust, mercy, charity, caring, and forgiveness? How do we spend our money and our time: are the entertainment and lifestyle choices we embrace life-affirming, or potentially destructive? Yes, like a small group of monks in the mountains of Algeria, we can make a difference, a difference that, however humble, still matters: not in how we die, but in how we live.”
You can read Carl's complete reflection here.
If you haven’t seen the film, see if you can find a copy and watch it. And perhaps a powerful way to watch it is to view it as a double-feature with The Dark Knight Rises. The contrast will be stark and evocative.