vanier quotes m. scott peck, who says, our ‘interest in the … source of our prejudices, hidden hostilities, irrational fears, perceptual blind spots, mental ruts, and resistance to growth is the start of an evolutionary leap. the major threats to our survival no longer stem from nature without but from our human nature within. it is our carelessness, our hostilities, our selfishness and pride and willful ignorance that endanger the world. unless we can now tame and transmute the potential for evil in the human soul, we shall be lost. and how can we do this unless we are willing to look at our own evil…?’
vanier says of the past, present, and future: ‘As we grow we leave behind us many things. If we spend time weeping over the past we become imprisoned in that past. We must certainly grieve what we have lost, but we must live freely the new realities of the present and we must wait in hope for new life.’ joy, freedom, and hope–what more could a human ask for?’
but danger! for ‘human friendships can very quickly become a club of mediocrities,… preventing people from seeing their inner poverty and wounds’, from seeing the enemy within…. friendships can stifle this inner search, becoming ‘a barrier between ourselves and others and their needs’, becoming ‘an emotional dependence which is a form of slavery.’
‘but in community we … discover that the ‘enemy’ is a person in pain and through that ‘enemy’ we are being asked to become aware of our own weakness, lack of maturity, and inner poverty,… [our] own dissatisfactions, [our] own wound.’
that requires hope that wounds can be healed and true satisfaction found. thankfully, ‘one of the roles of community life is precisely to keep us walking in hope, to help us accept ourselves as we are and others as they are.’ it also requires patience, personally a very holey (like swiss cheese) requirement, for sometimes i have great patience, sometimes very little. ‘patience, like forgiveness, is at the heart of community life,’ vanier writes. ‘the hope of a community is founded on the acceptance and love of ourselves and others as we really are, and on the patience and trust which is essential to growth.’
even with hope and patience and trust, though, can we look at our own evil? it requires more. it requires self-examination and honesty, along with acceptance and forgiveness, ladage. ‘stop seeing the flaws [in others],’ writes vanier. ‘look rather at your own defects and know that you are forgiven and can, in your turn, forgive others’.