Leonard Cohen has a song called The Faith, which asks again and again, “O love aren’t you tired yet?” One verse goes like this: “A cross on every hill, a star, a minaret, so many graves to fill. O love, aren’t you tired yet?”
Sometimes I feel tired–discouraged by the struggles and suffering of people I love, the unrelenting violence of world events. Words from the news create a litany of woes: Gaza, Ferguson, drones, climate change, ISIS, human trafficking, cutbacks, melting ice sheets, Fukushima, militarized police forces, Iraq, NSA, solitary confinement, Liberia, Ebola, drought, fracking… There seems to be no end to the disasters that are upon us.
Sometimes I need to take a break. Sometimes it’s enough to make me weep. But I’m in good company. Even Jesus wept, as he considered the fate of Jerusalem. He warned them that they faced disaster if they kept going the way they were headed. The same is true for us today.
I do feel sorrow at times, but I still have hope. That’s why I continue to speak out and take actions for peace, for justice, for the healing of the earth.
Hope is not passive. Hope doesn’t mean feeling optimistic. Hope means that we don’t give up, but keep working for the transformation of the world even if the odds seem to be overwhelmingly against us. This requires spiritual depth, supportive community, and resistance to the institutional Powers that dominate the world.
Hope originates in prayer, meditation, self-knowledge, and spiritual surrender, but culminates in community. It requires us to go deep within ourselves, to face our complicity with systems that produce death, to amend our ways, to join in solidarity with others, and to commit ourselves to creatively working for a transformed world, for what Jesus called “the kingdom of God.”
Yes, Jesus wept over Jerusalem, but he didn’t just weep and go back home. He wept and then headed into the city. When he got there, he went directly into the Temple and overturned the tables of the money changers and drove them out. This act of nonviolent resistance directly challenged the economic system upon which the religious establishment’s collaboration with Rome was built. This was why Jesus was put to death—he was a threat to the stability of the Roman occupation in that place.
The challenges facing us today are so great that we will need to work together, along with people around the world, to create the momentum to bring about the systemic transformation that is required. As Bill McKibben said, “If we can build a movement, then we have a chance.”
We may get tired and discouraged at times. We may need to rest. But love is still at work in the world, and there are many signs of hope: Palestinians standing with signs of solidarity with the people of Ferguson, offering tips on how to deal with militarized police and pepper spray; International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU) members cooperating with protestors in Oakland to prevent goods from an Israeli ship from being unloaded, as a protest against the Israeli assault against Gaza; colleges and churches organizing to divest from fossil fuels; nonviolent peacemakers facing judges and sentences; and so many other signs of hope, resistance, and transformation. The movement for a peaceful, just, and environmentally sustainable world is growing. It’s called “globalization from below.”
I am convinced that love will not rest, but will continue to work through us in this global movement for change. As we cooperate with this life-giving force, we embody hope. We bring hope into the sadness of our world. We make the world a more hopeful place.
See and hear a video of Leonard Cohen’s The Faith.
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