By Rev. Jim Innes
A wolf happened to pass by the lane where the three little pigs lived; and he saw the straw house, and he smelled the pig inside.
He thought the pig would make a mighty fine meal and his mouth began to water…
So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down! The wolf opened his jaws very wide and bit down as hard as he could…
(The wolf chases the little pigs and they run from house to house till they find a way to kill him.)
Due to war, violence and persecution, 16 million people were displaced globally last year.
Unlike the little pigs, many have no place to run. Doors are locked tight, and no amount of begging will open them.
This ‘fear of the other’ plays out in frenzied ways. For example, it has been recently reported that there are more than one billion guns scattered around the world (35% found in US /over 12% in Canada). The majority of them in the hands of civilians.
Within this self-protective scenario, it is inevitable that some kind of hell will break loose. And we increasingly feel powerless as to how and when the wolf will pounce. For example, close to home, and on the heels of two people detonating a bomb in a Mississauga restaurant injuring 15 people (in late May), a recent daylight shooting at a playground in east Toronto injured two innocent girls, aged five and nine.
Despite ongoing attempts to police these problems, the wolf’s hunger is relentless. It prowls indiscriminately. It confuses us by shape shifting. And it breeds unwittingly amongst those of us panicked into reactive combat.
The wolf is here to stay! Policing is helpful but not the end of it. And we increasingly sink into anxious self-protection… even seeing the wolf when it is not about. Or, at the very least, overreacting with behavior that is questionably sane. For example, the US President’s hardline stance on immigration, and the controversial policy of separating migrant parents from their children. Though that policy has been reworked, the trauma of it having occurred in the first place, speaks volumes of how confused fear can make us.
Many understand fear as the root of anger…and anger as the cause of violence. So it’s possible that fear of the wolf, when we react in an aggressive, self-protective manner, elevates the risk of becoming the wolf ourselves. On the other hand, if we try to deny any of this fear and anger, not reacting at all, we increase the risk of our becoming a permanent ‘victim’ behaving in some passive manner (in hope of staving off the wolf’s hunger). If not that, then falling into a depression in which the feelings of powerlessness snowball. And I believe this can happen even to those of us who only read about the wolf’s activity.
The question we are left to ponder is how to best live in the reality of the wolf’s unending hunger. One answer, as I see it (albeit limited), arises in our reacting courageously by elevating the best of our nature…the ability to love and forgive. Though I have more to say on this in the next article, let me leave you with the words of Martin Luther King;
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…”
(To be continued)
Rev. Jim Innes is the rector of the regional Ministry of South Huron.