‘The politics of gentleness’

Scott Stephens and Carmel Howard have posted a wonderful wee reflection – ‘The politics of gentleness’ – in which they draw upon a recent episode of Encounter which featured Jean Vanier and Stanley Hauerwas. Here’s a snippet from Hauerwas:

‘If you want to know what speed is, it’s war. War is made necessary by presumption that we don’t have the time to come to reconciliation, or to discover who the other is, that seems to be threatening us because we need to kill. What L’Arche represents is the time necessary, and how patience creates the time necessary, for people to come to reconciliation and knowledge of one another in a way that we’re not threatened to eliminate the other because they frighten us so deeply. We have all the time we need in a world that doesn’t think it’s got much time at all to draw on God’s love, to enact that love, that the world might see what it means to be chosen by God … Liberal political theory is so often based upon presumption that you want to have the autonomy of something called the individual that makes it possible for them to live without the need of others. What I think that L’Arche helps us see is we are not and should not be, autonomous, but our first stance is always to need another human being if I am to survive. So it is dependency, not autonomy, that we must learn to live if we’re to live well with joy, without regret. And so I think learning to live as, in Macintyre’s phrase, ‘dependent, rational animals’ is a great challenge within liberal cultures … I take the body image in Corinthians to be extremely important. We are interconnected in a way that some of us have gifts that others do not. And the gifts that the others have that we do not, we need. One of the problems that the so-called ‘weakest’ present is that many of us think that is an invitation for us to be very strong, where we can take care of the weak, rather than to see how the weak offer us gifts, that doesn’t make it imperative for us to always be strong. That’s part of what it means to learn to live as a body’.

By the way: the photo, which has been the focus of my meditation this week, is Raoef Mamedov’s ‘Het Lasstste Avondmaal’. Click to enlarge. Stay with it a while to enlarge yourself.

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