Originally published June 20, 2013
I am away working with youth affected by incarceration this weekend. I recently read the below meditation and found it to be moving. I hope you will also find inspiration. Terri
From Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
Center for Action and Contemplation
The Invisible Spiral of Violence
“If you cannot recognize evil on the level of what I call the world, then the flesh and the devil are inevitable consequences. They will soon be out of control, and everything is just trying to put out brush fires on already parched fields. The world or “the system” is the most hidden, the most disguised, and the most denied—but foundational—level of evil. It’s the way cultures, groups, institutions, and nations organize themselves to survive.
It is not “wrong” to survive, but for some reason group egocentricity is never seen as evil when you have only concentrated on individual egocentricity (“the flesh”). That is how our attention has been diverted from the whole spiral of violence. The “devil” then stands for all of the ways we legitimate, enforce, and justify our group egocentricity (most wars; idolization of wealth, power, and show; tyrannical governments; many penal systems; etc.), while not now calling it egocentricity, but necessity!
Once any social system exists, it has to maintain and assert itself at all cost. Things we do inside of that system are no longer seen as evil because “everyone is doing it.” That’s why North Koreans can march lockstep to a communist tyranny, and why American consumers can “shop till they drop” and make no moral connections whatsoever. You see now why most evil is hidden and denied, and why Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.’ (Luke 23:34) We don’t.”
Shalom and Amen
Illustration ~ photograph of opaque watercolor over graphite on gray-green woven paper circa 1886 by James Tissot (1836-1902) and released into the public domain.
RICHARD ROHR, OFM is a globally recognized ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within Christian mystical and the Perennial Tradition. He is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation. MORE
The foundational elements of The Perennial Tradition are: 1.) There is a Divine Reality underneath and inherent in the world of things. 2.) There is in the human soul a natural capacity, similarity, and longing for this Divine Reality. 3.) The final goal of existence is union with this Divine Reality.
TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction with honors and is a rare United Methodist student in the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual.
Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk. To reach her for conversation, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org