Dorothy Day on Bitterness and Despair

The battle at home now is to conquer the bitterness, the sense of futility and despair that grows among the young and turns them to violence, a violence which is magnified by the press, the radio and television. We lose sight of the poor people’s cooperatives and boycotts, the conquest of bread, as Kropotkin called it, which goes on daily in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, not to speak of California, Texas, and all the states where Mexicans have been imported for agricultural labor.

The Catholic Worker, February 1969

Anchor the Eternity of Love

John Lewis
PHOTO COURTESY OF MAGNOLIA PICTURES

Anchor the eternity of love in your own soul and embed this planet with goodness.
Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates.
Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge.
Release all bitterness.
Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won.
Choose confrontation wisely,
but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice.
And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love,
if you shine like a beacon for all to see,
then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation,
a world community,
and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself. 

~ John Lewis (February 21, 1940–July 17, 2020) 

Refusal to Assist in the Prosecution of War

“Because of our refusal to assist in the prosecution of war and our insistence that our collaboration be one for peace, we may find ourselves in difficulties. But we trust in the generosity and understanding of our government and our friends, to permit us to continue, to use our paper to ‘preach Christ crucified’.”

January 1942

Tears of Resistance

“Like every human being who hungers and thirsts for justice and peace, Dorothy Day had periods of complete exhaustion, sorrow, and pain. I was told that she would then withdraw and cry — for hours and days. She would sit there, talk to no one, eat nothing, and just cry. She did not withdraw from her struggle-filled, active life for the poorest of the poor. She never ceased to look upon war, and preparation for war, as a crime against the poor. But at certain times she wept, long and bitterly.

“When I discovered this, I understood better what pacifism is, what God means in the midst of defeat, how the spirit comforts us and leads us into truth. I understood that comfort is not had by giving up truth, that one does not happen at the expense of the other. That Dorothy Day cried for days on end means for me that the Spirit’s consolation bears, at the same time, its own inconsolability. With Dorothy Day, we can learn to pray for the gift of tears.”

from Against the Wind: Memoir of a Radical Christian by Dorothee Soelle

People who fight for justice and peace are on the right side of history, correct? So why should we experience exhaustion, sorrow and pain? Frustration, hopelessness?

Because the news cycle of history is decades long.

The fight against injustice spans centuries.

History is not, I believe, an endless cycle, defeats and victories repeating themselves over and over. Think of a long, slow wire coil making its way down from the attic to Eden. Landing on a step, hesitating, collecting itself, allowing itself to be led to the next step down toward its goal.

Imagine we are working half way down the stairs, we can barely see the steps above, only the long way down. Imagine if we were to stop pushing that coil onward, but we stopped, discouraged because CNN did not report the march, the action, the phone calls, the arrests.

Resistance has no news cycle.

Resistance does not feed instant gratification, quite the opposite.

The desire to stop the unnecessary hunger, the spending on wars, the killing of innocents on the street….. it is so intense.

…”With Dorothy Day, we can learn to pray for the gift of tears” and, with her, keep on.

Medea Benjamin Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

“If we want to reap the harvest of peace and justice in the future, we will have to sow the seeds of nonviolence, here and now, in the present.”

-Mairead McGuire

Medea Benjamin Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

 

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Click on link above to read Mairead McGuire (Nobel Peace Prize recipient 1976) sum up Benjamin’s work and support her for award.

Dorothy Day was rejected as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize because she was “too radical.” The work for social justice that Benjamin continues to do makes her a spiritual granddaughter of Dorothy. The Nobel Peace Prize Committee has a chance to correct skipping her over by awarding the prize to Benjamin.