Seeing the devastation that Putin’s war is wrecking on a country and on individual lives is alarming. Hearing the stories of just some of the 2 million persons who have been forced to flee their country and leave loved ones behind is equally disturbing. It renders one speechless that so much suffering can happen at the hands of one person.
We see images of wives and girl friends and mothers and children escaping the violence of the war while the men stay behind to fight it, some in their teens, some in their fifties. We see old people being left behind because they cannot make the arduous journey; and others doing their best struggling to make it. We see children crying in the basements and metro stations.
How can life be so cruel and how can humans be so cruel to other humans?
What price we are willing to pay for our ideologies? What is the ease with which we surrender our humanity for…what? Victory? Hatred? Power? The thrill of seeing others suffer? The triumph of a belief? An idol? What’s it all about? How many others will suffer in the process?
To grasp the meaning of war, it behooves us to think about our relationships. Think about just one person fleeing the country and leaving behind the following:
A loved one, a husband or lover.
A parent or grandparent.
A place. A home. One’s plants. One’s photographs and memories.
One’s yard and one’s neighborhood.
One’s job and one’s co-workers.
The list can go on and on. It is a list of relations.
When the Lakota people pray, they always pray “all our relations.” This is a profound way of remembering the sacredness of all relationships.
Meister Eckhart says, “relation is the essence of everything that exists.” This is echoed by today’s physics as well. That is why we are all “interdependent.” And it is also why we are capable of compassion which is the working out of our interdependence in both joy and sorrow.
Until we choose otherwise. And choose to treat others as objects, not as subjects we are in in relationship with. One cannot wage war without stepping outside the circle of “all our relations” and into a box of “us vs. them,” of subject vs. object.
Is war the opposite of relationship, the opposite of honoring the sacredness of beings and our being-with other beings?
Evil and War are efforts to destroy the Sacred, to rupture all our relations. What drives humans to that end?
See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society
See also Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, pp. 211f
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Building attacked by Russia in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Photo by Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Wikimedia Commons.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you see war as a rupture of relationships? And thereby the destruction of the Sacred? Do we still honor the Sacred? How so? How not?