Fear, Love, and Revolution

Some words I’ve been thinking on lately:

For many years I’ve been trying to figure out why revolutionary movements almost always fail to materially and permanently help the poor. …
Perhaps it has to do with the incapacity to attend to our own feelings omnipresent in a severely traumatized people. Perhaps our marvelous capacity to adapt to even the most atrocious situations is the major reason revolutions fail. We’re so good at getting along that we do so at the expense of actions that would in a meaningful sense bring change in those original circumstances that cause our suffering.
Then I had another thought: perhaps the problem is that those of us striving for egalitarianism, or just trying to make a fine, noble, and happy life, tire of this struggle more quickly than those whose wounds for whatever reason give them a superhuman stamina in their indomitable quest to control and destroy. Perhaps revolutions fail because those in power feel more fear than we feel love. Or perhaps because we ourselves feel more fear than love. I don’t like to think this, but evidence suggests it may be at least partly true. …
If we wish to do away with bosses, we need to do away with the primacy of production. We need to learn from egalitarian religious and especially extant indigenous groups that the emphasis of our society must be on process: not on the creation of things and the accumulation of monetary or political power, but on the acknowledgement and maintenance of relationships, on both personal and grand scales. (Derrick Jensen, A Language Older Than Words, pp. 257-262)

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be an atoning sacrifice for out sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. … There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. (1 John 4:7-12, 18)

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that they should wage a different kind of war, one with divine weapons against spiritual strongholds. He encouraged the Romans not to conform to the world but to be transformed and renewed mentally. The battle, according to Paul, is fought within.

And then there’s Jesus, in John 15, who offers the command to abide in love, to be willing to sacrifice for others, as one of the highest commands we can uphold. Then he promptly follows that statement with the sobering reality that this kind of behavior is bound to be met with hatred from the world.

If you do this, he warns, if you bear the fruit of God — radical life-giving love — you will be hated as I have been. You do not belong to the world. You belong to God.

I find I cannot be reminded of this enough.

What about you? How do you think followers of Jesus can bear this mark of difference today: how can we continue to bear the fruit of love in a world that fears and hates? How does the battle between fear and love play out on a more personal level, in your own life and heart? How do you think we can create meaningful change in our communities that will emphasize relationship over production?

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Filed under Ethics, Theology and Faith

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