Wednesday, June 16, 2004

We Are The Ones We've Been Waiting For, by Jim Wallis

We Are The Ones We've Been Waiting For, an address to the baccalaureate graduates of Stanford University by Jim Wallis

This is the kind of thing I simply have to read occasionally in order to keep my head on straight. Here are some of my favorite excerpts:

"When I was growing up, it was continually repeated in my evangelical Christian world that the greatest battle and biggest choice of our time was between belief and secularism. But I now believe that the real battle, the big struggle of our times, is the fundamental choice between cynicism and hope. The choice between cynicism and hope is ultimately a spiritual choice; and one which has enormous political consequences.

"More than just a moral issue; hope is a spiritual .... choice. Hope is not a feeling; it is a decision. And the decision for hope is based upon what you believe at the deepest levels - what your most basic convictions are about the world and what the future holds - all based upon your faith. You choose hope, not as a naïve wish, but as a choice, with your eyes wide open to the reality of the world - just like the cynics who have not made the decision for hope.

".... New options for public life, and even political policy choices, can be inspired by our best moral and religious traditions; especially when present options are failing some fundamental ethical tests. The eight - century Micah has become my favorite prophet of national and global security. Listen to his prescriptions:

"'He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid.'

"Micah is saying, you simply cannot and will not beat "swords into plowshares" (remove the threats of war) until people can "sit under their own vines and fig trees" (have some share in global security). Only then will you remove the fear that leads inextricably to conflict and violence.

"....There are voices rising up in our world that sound like Micah. I believe they are modern day prophets, often coming from unexpected places. One is the most famous rock singer in the world, the leader of the Irish band U2. Of course, I'm speaking of Bono, who has become a serious and well - informed activist, talking always about Africa and HIV/AIDS. Bono is a spiritual man, though not a churchy person, and often comes to Washington D.C.

"Bono spoke at the Africare dinner in Washington, to fifteen hundred of the capitol's leaders and media. "Excuse me if I'm a little nervous," Bono apologized, "but I'm not used to speaking to less than 20,000 people!" Then he spoke like a preacher.

"'So you've been doing God's work, but what's God working on now? What's God working on this year? Two and a half million Africans are going to die of AIDS. What's God working on now? I meet the people who tell me it's going to take an act of God to stop this plague. Well, I don't believe that. I think God is waiting for us to act. In fact, I think that God is on His knees to us….waiting for us to turn around this supertanker of indifference.... waiting for us to recognize that distance can no longer decide who is our neighbor. We can't choose our neighbors anymore. We can't choose the benefits of globalization without some of the responsibilities, and we should remind ourselves that "love thy neighbor" is not advice: it is a command.'"