activism · Hope · prayer · refugees

Lessons from Saint Francis of Assisi

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I have been wanting to write this post for several days now but have been struggling with the words I want to use.  Donald Trump and his administration terrify me.  They have managed to bring fascism and hate to the forefront of American politics and it is unacceptable.  As a professional in the realm of history with an emphasis on how conflict is passed down from generation to generation, I have seen this path we are on before and it does not end well.

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Trump and his administration aim to bring a Fourth Reich to the world.  And people will remember.  The political choices of this administration will affect the world for generations to come.  The actions of this man and those he surrounds himself with will only serve to create more animosity towards the United States.  That is human nature.  By marginalizing communities based on ethnicity or religion we only serve to foment the already bubbling hatred in these communities.

How do we fight this?

By following the words of the Prayer of Saint Francis, even if you are not religious.

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”

“Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” – I vow that I will treat marginalized communities who feel hatred with unending and unconditional love. I will embrace refugees, the poor, and the sick.  I will listen to their stories, share them, and protect them.

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“Where there is injury, pardon.” – We must be willing to ask for forgiveness from marginalized groups and communities and we must forgive those who harm us, but we must hold them responsible for any criminal actions.  Forgiveness does not mean you cannot be held responsible for actions or words that are harmful.  If someone strikes me, I will forgive you, but I will also press charges.

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“Where there is doubt, faith.”  I doubt the administration currently in power, but I have faith that the American public and those in charge of running our country will choose to do what they know to be right.  I have already seen this in the decision of a Federal Judge to put a stay on Trump’s Refugee Ban.   I see this in my community of geeks, who will not sit by and let terrible things happen to those they love, simply for who they are.

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“Where there is despair, hope.”  This goes along with faith.  We cannot despair.  We must have hope. Rebellions are built on hope.

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“Where there is darkness, light.”  It is our duty to be a light in the darkness for marginalized communities.  We must guide them to us so they do not despair.  We must shine brightly so the world knows that we do no accept or agree with what this Administration does.

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“Where there is sadness, joy.”  There is so much sadness in the world.  How do we fight sadness?  By being present in the moment, and seeking to bring joy to ourselves and others.  When we are sad, we must embrace it, and channel that emotion into a process of bringing joy back to the world or ourselves.

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We must seek to console those suffering, we must understand and love those who are marginalized.

This week I ask each of you to do something in line with this prayer, even if you are not religious, seek to live these ideas as one human being to another.

Volunteer at a homeless shelter, donate goods or money to a refugee center, embrace someone who is suffering.

We are the beacon of light, in these dark times.  And they are dark.  But we must rise up and fight for what we know to be right.

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