by Joseph Nangle, OFM
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
The banner headline on this week’s November 4th edition of the Washington Post read: “A Nation Divided”— stating the obvious, as we begin to assess the results of the election. Whichever of the two candidates for president wins, the fact remains that there is a chasm dividing the citizens of the United States. Just about half of the country voted for one or the other of the two men running for president.
What is more, the division in this country does not only run along political/party lines as much as it represents an ominous difference of basic values among us. It gives rise to fundamental questions: What have we become as a country? What do we want to be as a country?
Do sixty-something million of our fellow citizens actually prefer xenophobia over internationalism? Would they actually agree to turn our backs on efforts like the Paris Climate Agreement? Are they saying that the great history of immigrants finding a new home here is no longer our choice? Does the voting population of the United States want to ignore science rather than seek health and healing through it? And perhaps symptomatic of all this, do we really want crudeness, dishonesty and unbridled narcissism as the hallmarks of our national leadership? These considerations and so, so many others like them are questions of values, of national ideals, measures of a nation’s greatness or deep decline.
In the face of these disheartening indications of where the United States of America is at this moment in our history and where are we headed, what is the role of Pax Christi USA going forward?
Let me offer a thought for consideration. One of God’s greatest gifts to humanity and to Christian/Catholics in particular is hope. This sometimes overlooked quality has been spoken of as extremely important, “especially in the middle of difficult and confusing times … helping to assuage worry and overcome sadness.” It is described as “the virtue which lifts us … and helps anticipate the future with joy.” And above all, hope is called “the power of faith that sets history in motion and gives it all its vitality.”
High-sounding phrases but true. Hope is often considered a weak, flabby, wishful sentiment that causes a retreat from reality into a cocoon of dreamy living. Actually, hope is a strong and vibrant gift of a dynamic and energizing Holy Spirit which drives us to face life and history bravely and effectively. It is best articulated in believing and living the truth of “the already and not yet”—we “already” experience God’s Reign breaking in on our world; it is “not yet” fully realized.
In practical terms hope is, I believe, a unique contribution which a Christian/Catholic movement like Pax Christi will bring to this crucial struggle to save America. We join with millions of decent, good-willed fellow citizens to take on the enormous tasks which this election is uncovering. Hope contributes greatly to energizing responses to these challenges.
For us these are Gospel mandates. Yet in God’s Providence they have been spelled out by a Hindu, Mahatma Gandhi, in his list of seven deadly sins:
- Wealth without work
- Pleasure without conscience
- Knowledge without character
- Commerce without morality
- Science without humanity
- Religion without sacrifice
- Politics without principle
Overcoming them serves as a blueprint for rescuing the soul of America.
Joe Nangle OFM is a Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace. As a member of the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C., he is dedicated to simple living and social change. Joe also serves as the Pastoral Associate for the Latino community at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, Virginia.