Monday, January 28, 2013

Dorothy (mon)Day: You Say You Want a Revolution

Book, time, coffee and conversation.

"The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?"

 It used to be that I thought having the answer was the right way to go. That if I knew the answer, I would solve the problem. That if I solved the problem, all would be right with the (my) world. That didn't get me very far or very well-liked in some quarters.

But these days, the more I read, the more I study, the more I realize that having the answer isn't all that important. It's the question that matters. For me, the desire to quickly find the answer is a tough nut to crack. Not having the answer or a solution makes me uncomfortable. I failed high school math three years in a row because I couldn't solve the problems. And if I couldn't solve them, then I couldn't be bothered. So, I succeeded at failure.

Today, I don't have the answers, but I do have questions. Sometimes I'm afraid to ask, like yesterday when I spoke with my father. He was on his way to Florida for his annual winter break and he called to let me know he was safe. Every year, he stays in the same hotel in the same town on his way down. I can never remember the name of the town and I forget which state it's in. So last night I was afraid to ask exactly where he was staying because I didn't want to appear stupid. But I took the risk and asked. He told me. It was that simple.

 It's not so simple when we're talking about bigger things, like gun control or abortion. Or immigration. It's so easy and so quick to jump to a side and claim that this side is right; this side has the answer. But as soon as we jump to one side, the name-calling begins, either from us or toward us. Communication breaks down as people listen only for as long as it takes to formulate their response to an unasked question.

The discussions we are having in culture today brand us in a way that did not exist 10, 20 years ago. If we are for gun-rights we are baby killers. If we are for legalized abortion we are baby killers. Who the heck wants to be called that? How does that move us forward? How is that like Christ, who died at the hands of people who killed as part of their job?

The questions we ask, should we dare to ask them, must come from a deep desire to see things clearer. I ask because I want to know, not because I want to play a "gotcha game." Playing that game got me a life of misery disguised as rightness. Self-righteousness is without mercy.

Does a march on Washington every January do a better job of advocating for the liberality of love for every human being than a simple conversation over a cup of coffee?

Does legislation of guns and gun-use do a better job at curbing mass murder than a deep and abiding friendship with another human being?

Nearly 50 years ago, Dylan challenged us to ask questions with no ready answers, because the asking is what is important to our soul. When we stop asking, we stop living.