If you can’t go back to your mother’s womb, you’d better learn to be a good fighter.

Anchee Min, in Red Azaleas

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You know I learned that lesson very early in life.  Born to a mother who would raise me by herself, in a tough working class neighborhood in Boston – a city that, to this day, is comprised of rebels and patriots, faithful people that are not afraid to stand up to evil and oppression and injustice and those who would attempt to harm them or steal their dignity.

When times are lean and jobs and money are scarce – each day is a fight and there are no days off.

The essence of a fight is, or course, a struggle within, before it is a conflict without – and that means growth and maturity precede engagement.

As I look around American today, I wonder if we are up to the challenges we face and a world that senses, for the first time, our reluctance, our hesitation and sees this as a fear that invites the aggression of our adversaries.  This is, of course, not good.  Aggression needs no invitation.

Today, I see people who have been accustomed to getting things, depending on others.  I see dreadful self-indulgence, softness, lack of discipline.

I see less fight in people than our circumstances require.

We seem timid.  We appear have come to wait for others to do for us, rather than do for ourselves – taking initiative, getting in the fight.

And, I see many who seek to have their personal preferences satisfied, pampered, safe-guarded.  But I see less willingness to sacrifice, to act as one united United States.

Seeking personal preference is okay in times of plenty and peace – but not so in times of turmoil and uncertainty – economic and otherwise.

We seem to have forgotten that the capacity to fight when required is part of being human. We seem to have people in leadership roles that have forgotten this.

In reading a book recently, I plucked from its pages a news clipping I had saved. It was an article which reported Pope Francis’ 10 “secrets” to human happiness. They were: (1) live and let live, (2) be forgiving to yourself, (3) proceed calmly in life, (4) keep a healthy sense of leisure, (5) treat Sunday as a holiday, (6) find innovative ways to create jobs for young people, (7) respect and take care of nature, (8) don’t be negative, (9) don’t proselytize – respect others’ beliefs, (10) work for peace.

These are all nice in and of themselves.  In a world where unicorns are plentiful, they will do just fine.  But I have not seen a unicorn prancing about ever.

When we fail to level with one another that the world is a very tough place, where injustice and bad things happen – we prepare ourselves to be somebody’s lunch.

Our task is to live faithfully in the real world.  To this end I leave you with but one simple memory:

“It was Caiaphas, that year’s High Priest, who put the matter bluntly.  Better, he argued, that one man should die than the whole nation perish … in this case Caiaphas spoke truer than he knew, for Jesus was to save, not just a nation, but all mankind.”

Malcolm Muggeridge

What is it that we fear?  Our access to everlasting life is established.  Can we now get busy in facing what we must?


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