Some “Silver Linings” within the Appalling News from Ukraine?

As we saw in an earlier Daily Meditation, Meister Eckhart dares to say that “all things praise God, even evil.”  This is a very hard teaching to grasp or meditate on (as I have for decades since I first read it).

“Adam Lay Ybounden” Medieval hymn on the “fall of humankind,” sung by Faun: “…Never had the apple, The apple taken ben, Ne hadde never our lady, A ben Hevene Quen, Blessed be the time, The apple taken was, Therefore we moun singen, Deo gracias.” Uploaded to YouTube by Andrew Reitemeyer

One way we talk about this in our every-day parlance is to say that there are “silver linings” even within the darkest of clouds.  

Might there be some silver linings as a result of Putin’s war against Ukraine? 

Here may be a few.

It is bringing European nations (and many others) together in outrage at the breaking of international laws to respect the sovereignty of nations—including small ones.

It is awakening overly comfortable consumer-driven countries and a new generation that democracy is not a game.  It requires truth and honesty and courage and hard work to make it work.

The European Parliament gives a standing ovation to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy…and faces searching questions on their limited action in response. Video by 7NEWS Australia.

Maybe this revelation—that democracy is not a game—might inspire less sectarianism in the American political mindset.

It is reminding the world (and some sectarian American politicians?)  that humanity’s capacity for evil is real and that it thrives on lies and falsehoods and how dangerous lies are and how much damage and destruction they can do.  Truth matters.

It is reminding overly comfortable, consumer capitalist nations, that sacrifice and generosity are an important part of life and that sentimentality is no substitute for love-justice. 

Paradigm-shifting Facebook meme.

It is reminding Americans, many of whom are bored with an ever increasingly ineffectual democracy, that democracy is far healthier than autocracy and maybe reforming a tired democracy is in order.

A fledging and new democracy is igniting other, older democracies, to wake up and not take for granted the rules of international law that make democracy possible.  

To be continued

 See Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth. 

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: EU solidarity with Ukraine: The arrival of Greek assistance in Moldova. Photo by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Which of these “silver linings” most speak to you?

Recommended Reading

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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18 thoughts on “Some “Silver Linings” within the Appalling News from Ukraine?”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you ask of us: “Which of these “silver linings” most speak to you?” What comes up for me first of all, is what you mention, and that is the European nations coming together to back Ukraine, and Americans and Europeans being willing to pay higher prices to do what we can. You also mention in the video about patriarchy. I have mixed feelings about this. That is because although the feminist movement has done great things; the “Equal Right Amendment” has never been ratified by all states, and there are many Christian denominations which will not ordain women as ministers or priests–including the number one offender: the Catholic Church. I think that people like Riane Eisler, author of THE CHALIC AND THE BLADE, writes of a partnership system or a cooperative society with true equality between women and men–neither patriarchal or matriarchal, but a balanced kingdom and queendom of God.

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    To the spiritually discerning, things are not what they appear to be. Fascism and other totalitarian regimes are eventually doomed to collapse because at root they are energized by the powers of darkness — power, control, greed, intimidation, censorship etc., in effect, the police state as God. They fly in the face of what is good, just and free for it citizens and deep down the spirit of people everywhere know that. Putin’s actions are on the wrong side of history, just as those of his totalitarian predecessors have been. He is living by the sword as his governing principle, and shall die that way. The silver lining is our trust in the law of reaping and sowing that will have its way with him as well, as it has with them. Sowing to the flesh ultimately reaps death and destruction to those who put their trust in same. This isn’t about autocracy vs democracy, it’s about darkness vs light, and life vs death couched in politico-military terms as it has always been. Such is true even in the good old USA, where the undiscerning and uninformed are unaware of how we live in a national security state with a shadow government funneling billions of dark, off the books money to fund secret weaponry and technology programs for its own politico-military ends. America too has its unexamined and unexposed shadow side. This shadow government also has its political agenda energized by self-interest, more subtle and clandestine but just as lethal as Putin’s. As the apostle Paul said, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places.” Those “high places” are dark spiritual forces that manifest in high political offices and governments worldwide, without exception, including in institutional religious hierarchies. The corruption of the best (democracy and/ or religion) is the worst. Such is life in high places in “this world” vs “My kingdom.” Darkness will reach critical mass and will ignite the parousaic spark to usher in the kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.” We need prophetic voices to boldly proclaim same, and priestly voices to reassure the faithful of same. I say to you, things are not what they appear to be.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Joe, After your long detailed response of “apocalyptic doom,” you end with these words: “Darkness will reach critical mass and will ignite the parousiac spark to usher in the kingdom ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’ We need prophetic voices to boldly proclaim same, and priestly voices to reassure the faithful of same. I say to you, things are not what they appear to be.” And one of those voices that speaks in a powerful way and to the whole world is Matthew, through is books, his Daily Meditations, and his many classes and lectures. And I follow his eschatology of the Coming of the Cosmic Christ and the birth of the Kingdom and Queendom of God.

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      Thank you for the reminders about this country’s shadow side, which does get exposed every now and then, but needs even more illumination. The obscene profits from drug companies is just a small example of taking advantage of a dire situation of the pandemic, and the profits from arms manufacturers are enormous. But I do hope as Matthew points out that the struggle of a small country for its freedom will wake up more of us to do what we can to renew democracy here.

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    Lee Anne Ireland

    Dear Matthew – THANK YOU for this as I’ve struggled with trying to find any way to flip the lens on my perspective. This is a gift….which I will share in my walk as a pastor and spiritual director.
    Lee Anne Ireland
    Niantic, CT

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    Jeanette Metler

    The thing about silver linings, is that the light appears to only penetrate the peripheral darkness. There’s something much deeper within this darkness, that is in desperate need of being exposed to the light of truth, and this truth is much more than democracy, or the beginning of the end of patriarchal ruling and reigning, or hierarchies misuse and abuse of power and authority, or man made rules of international law, or the evil that mankind itself has manifested upon this beautiful and sacred planet of Gods creation. What comes to mind are these words from a movie, which can be perceived as rather prophetic in relationship to what we are collectively facing during these dark and dangerous times… “You want the truth… You can’t handle the truth!”

    The result… humanity settles for the silver lining… merely skimming the surface, circling around the peripheral of things… never really penetrating the depths of the root causes of all this unconscious collective darkness and dangerous evil.

    Deep, penetrating truth… is excruciatingly painfully… Jesus walked this Calvary road demonstrating courageously and honestly the Cross of this reality. The mystics know of this truth… they called it the dark night of the soul! As Joe has commented… things are not what they appear to be… there’s so much more than just the silver lining… and there’s more to the dark impasse we now stand at the threshold of.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Today you begin your comment saying: “The thing about silver linings, is that the light appears to only penetrate the peripheral darkness. There’s something much deeper within this darkness, that is in desperate need of being exposed to the light of truth…”
      Then near the end you say: “… humanity settles for the silver lining… merely skimming the surface, circling around the peripheral of things… never really penetrating the depths of the root causes of all this unconscious collective darkness and dangerous evil.”
      My problem with what you are saying is that you don’t seem to think that “silver linings” can be anything but deceptions. As I told Joe because of his comment, I believe that Matthew IS helping us to penetrate the darkness and he is exposing it to the light of truth. And he does not “merely skin the surface, circling around the peripheral things… never really penetrating the depths of the root causes of all this unconscious collective darkness and dangerous evil.” That is what h e has been doing in all of the months dwelling on toxic masculinity and patriarchalism and now in covering the war in Ukraine.

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        Jeanette Metler

        Richard, my comment was in reference to humanity in general, not specific to Mathew Fox. Secondly, I do suggest in my comment that the silver lining does contain the light of truth, however throughout this, humanity in general needs to go much deeper, than skirting around the peripheral of the much deeper issues that we are facing and our collective response to these. In the last paragraph of my previous comment, I speak of this as the mystics and also the prophets journey into this depth, known as the dark night of the soul and I compare this in contrast to Jesus and the road of Calvary… in referencing the willingness of those like myself, yourself, Mathew and many others whom bring the light of truth… exposing, that things do not appear as they seem, and that there is much more than just the silver lining… and that there is more to the dark impasse that all of humanity is standing at the threshold of.

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    I agree with Joe’s deeper spiritual and social analysis as stated above, and Matthew’s analysis of our evolution as a human species. We’ve been stuck in our reptilian/patriarchal/masculine toxic societies and institutions that have grown the past 6500 years to the point of destroying Mother Nature and bringing us close to human extinction…. Our Mother Father Creator willing, there are glimpses that the Divine Feminine Spirit of Divine Love~Wisdom is still birthing in our hearts, consciousness, and our lives/action with one another… We have the profound responsibilities in our inner and outer lives of being co-Creators with God’s Spirit of Love~Light~Life~Peace to continue evolving with Faith….

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Damian, You write: “I agree with Joe’s deeper spiritual and social analysis as stated above…” I have a problem with Joe’s comment (you can read what I wrote to him) because instead of seeing US as responsible for war and the allowing things to come to a head so that Jesus can come again and establish His Kingdom, Matthew teaches that we should be healing the earth–that it is our responsibility to end the devastation of the earth and environment. If we have been bad stewards of the earth which God has entrusted to us, we will have no “talents” (See: Matt. 25:14-30) to show for it, because we did nothing. Joe also says that we need more voices speaking out, and my reply is that is just what Matthew is doing. And he trying to teach us so that we can be voices too…

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    Jeanette Metler

    Humanity, needs to go much, much deeper, than merely the silver lining of democracy, or the beginning of the end of heirarchal misuse and abuse of power, or the many other things that truth has shed its light upon. The vision offered through the silver lining and its wisdom… often brought to the forefront through the voice and spiritual writings of the ages of the mystics and prophets… as truth penetrating as these are… aren’t much more than ink written on parchment, or a voice crying out in the wilderness… illuminating the pathway beyond the peripheral… if humanity doesn’t honestly and courageously face the depths of its own core state and condition of its heart, mind and soul and all that lies there… both in the dark AND the light. This is the impasse, the threshold that all of humanity stands at, that involves death, change and transformation, that leads to new life. Yes indeed, people like Mathew and many other prophets and mystics down through the ages have penetrated some of the depths of this… however my sense is that there is something much deeper at the CORE that humanity in general… century after century, has not yet been able to really see… that desires to unfold… that beckons all of humanity to evolve to… that which has for generation upon generation been attempting to emerge… something hoped for, but not yet. It seems to me, that humanity is caught in some kind of eddy, simply encircling the same things over and over again, since the beginning of time… things like war and all that this… never descending and diving down deep enough to find the way out.

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    There is room for both the prophetic voice and the priestly voice. Each differs from the other, though they are complementary halves of a whole. Seems Richard K needs to learn the difference. The former pinpoints root causes and the symptoms thereof, without pulling punches. It’s not doomist, but neither is it a popular or soothing voice that makes silver linings the exclusive focus, especially when silver linings can sound (unintentionally) like bromides that neglect the other side of the story. Last I heard, healers diagnose the disease definitively PRIOR offering a fitting therapeutic remedy. Near as I can tell, Matthew is a glass-half-full guy, and an admirably virtuous one at that. Yet any virtue makes a great servant, but a poor master when other perspectives and voices require inclusion. Darkness and depravity are not pretty in any of their forms and must be called out. It’s the bad news for which the good news is a remedy, and Paul diagnosis it thoroughly in Romans. There’s place for Original Blessing perspectives, but not to the neglect of human depravity. Acting like it doesn’t exist, and on a on a very large scale with increasing degrees of lethal darkness over deep time is a form of denial, however unintended. It was Jesus who came to underscore same FIRST, before presenting the good news as its unguent. And both Jesus and Paul said that its malignancy will increase before Jesus came again — so don’t kill the messenger. So the prophetic voice in spiritual matters is one of analytic depth, sobriety, and discernment that identifies foundational causes in view of biblical truths. In case you haven’t noticed, most who have spoken with a prophetic voice throughout history have been murdered for that reason, including Jesus, who was said to “lay the ax to the root of the tree” and came ” with a winnowing fan” to separate the chaff from the wheat. Both involve painful processes that no one wants to hear, especially when their roots are rotten, and the wheat (sacred kernels) have need to be surgically dislodged from the chaff. Surgeons need to cut surgically, and not be afraid of or squeamish over blood. If you study Scripture, Richard, you’ll learn that the earth will become a pretty pathetic place overall prior to the Second Coming owing to how the mass of humanity will despoil it, along with degrading themselves and each other. Not exactly a churchy pie-in-the-sky scenario. The prophetic voice gets under people’s skin as to their moral failures and depraved inclinations and doings — personally, nationally, globally and institutionally. It was no role for the fainthearted in ancient times, and still isn’t. On the other hand, the priestly voice offers the kind of encouragement that manifests in Matthew’s gifts and talents, and for many faithful years running now. And having read his material for years, I’m truly thankful for his sacrifice and wisdom, and am indebted to his work more than he’ll ever know. Over those years he’s paid handsomely for truth speaking in the area of his priestly calling, and I have felt some of his pain in the face of institutional religion’s censoring. He has been steadfast, and contrary to Richard’s hasty perspective, I have no quarrel with him. I’m thankful for the space he allows here, as most website teachers do not. Says here, in Christendom today and for centuries now there have been far too many soft priestly voices, and not enough virile prophetic ones to balance them out. The Bible calls for a balance, particularly during difficult times when pointing to silver linings exclusively is not enough. the worst of pointing out silver linings at such times sounds like the dance band on the Titanic, if you get my drift.

  8. Cynthia Greb

    I thought of a silver lining a couple of weeks ago. I posted it on Facebook, with trepidation. because I thought people would be appalled that I could find anything good that resulted from this war. But I was careful with how I worded it and, surprisingly, I didn’t get any flack.

    What brought me a modicum of joy in the midst of this war was the realization that for the first time in a very long time, I was feeling unity within our country. Instead of the horrible division between Trumpers and anti-Trumpers, vaxxers and anti-vaxxers, Democrats and Republicans, it seems the country (and world) were uniting in their desire for peace and for sovereignty in Ukraine.

    This is no small thing. And I am so grateful for it.

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    One more silver lining arrived in my email today from the Campaign for Peace Disarmament and Common Security.

    “Stephen Kinzer of Brown University and a weekly columnist at the Boston Globe has written an important article about the potential danger of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine leading to nuclear war, and its ramifications for the future. If there is a silver lining to the catastrophe of this war, it is the renewing of attention to the existential danger of nuclear weapons and the urgent need for nuclear disarmament.”

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