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A Mob by Any Other Name Is Still a Mob

01-16-2021Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Maybe it’s that I have been desensitized to the mob, but watching the events in the Capital Building I was pretty much unfazed. Not that I condone any of it, I don’t and I would not join in or encourage anyone to do so. But I thought, “another group of angry people with grievances acting out in unacceptable ways.” Even as I watched Arizona guy, horned and bare-chested standing in the Speaker’s spot, it seemed to me that he was at least, in all his weirdness, being honest about who he is, unlike so many of the pols that often stand in the same spot.

But the whole depressing episode should be a warning shot to the incoming Administration. Joe Biden will be presiding over a powder keg. So, I hope he treads carefully and really does mean that he will be a uniter. Over his very long political career he promoted himself as the “guy who reaches across the aisle” and was able to broker bipartisan agreements. Well, if we ever needed such a politician, now is the moment. I pray he has the strength of his convictions. But it won’t be easy. Any compromises he makes that deviate from the hard-left position will be met with fierce opposition and 25th Amendment threats. So, having the fortitude to live by his convictions and his long-held principles and resisting the urge to rub salt in the wound will make all the difference between having our Country be the United States or the Disunited States of America. I hold him in prayer and hope you will too.

Just as many elected officials tried to address the grievances that kicked off much of the rioting we saw over the summer, namely how community policing is done, Elected officials need to address the grievances that underlie the mess at the Capital on January 6. The protestors may have many grievances but the biggest one by far is the way the election results were handled. The fact is our vote counting system is a disgrace, not just a national disgrace but a worldwide disgrace. Many third world countries count votes more quickly and more efficiently than the US. Years of tinkering with the way votes are counted or not counted or when they are counted or by whom they are counted has led to a lack of confidence in the outcomes. Whether all that made a material difference in winners and losers is almost impossible to know. But it gives the perception that something is not on the up and up. And as is often the case perception equals reality regardless of what the reality actually is. And for good or ill we often act on our perceptions. Restoring integrity to the vote counting process will go a long way in restoring unity and lessening partisan hatred.

As riots broke out in May over police use of force/racism in policing many people dismissed these issues out of hand. But that did not make the issues go away. Likewise, now, many people dismiss the grievances over the 2020 election results as sore loser talk. But again, that will not make the grievances or the resentments that come with them disappear. It takes some humility and a willingness to listen to the other side, to put yourself in their shoes and try to see things from their perspective if you ever hope to build bridges and restore peace. Reaching across the aisle is not just for politicians but for all of us who hope to build a world that is marked by friendship and not enmity. Remember where you stand often depends on where you sit. So put on your God glasses and try to see things from God’s perspective and then maybe we who bear his name can act as he would have us act.

This is why Jesus instructs his followers to be peacemakers: Blessed are the Peacemakers for they will be called children of God. Is that a title you aspire to hold? Because if you do want to be a child of God than be a peacemaker. It is not easy, it is often marked by failure, frustration and disappointment. But infused by grace every effort at peace is a brick in the wall of harmony.

As our land devolves into the far-left and the far-right, Christians will find a home in neither. St. Paul understood this truth two thousand years ago when he told us: “our citizenship is in heaven.”

Resist the coercive framework that demands everyone choose one of two extremes. Choose Christ and his Gospel of Peace.

Love, Fr. John B.

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