Our world today is plagued by violence. Reports of mass shootings have become commonplace, and some of them we never even hear about. Movie previews and clips from popular TV shows dramatize horrific scenes of violence that, over time, can come to seem almost normal. Richard Rohr, an influential spiritual teacher, says that the root of violence is the illusion of separation. Violence erupts when a person fails to realize his connection with everybody and everything else. The typical perpetrator of violence is a loner, alienated from God, society, nature, and self. Pope Francis believes that personal encounters can heal this alienation. When we show respect for another’s dignity by deliberate, compassionate presence, listening deeply to their story, we help them experience their personal worth and our common humanity. Their sense of isolation is diminished, and they gain a new sense of belonging. Personal relationships are healing, and they are a powerful antidote to violence.
By Delores Dufner, OSB