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Acceptance and Resistance in Community

by John K. Stoner (June 21, 2015)

In my June 8 post on "The Good in All People," I wrote that we know some things: love, forgiveness, acceptance and community. These actions are an alternative to the way of empire.

Berry asked me a question afterward about the "acceptance" word and about an element that was missing from this formulation.

In the book, he said, in lists like this we always included actions like nonviolent resistance--to remind us of our vocation to resist empire. Why didn't I include that?

On reflection, I think it was because I was writing about how we think about community--who belongs and how do we relate to people in it.

My use of the word "acceptance" was not to say that we accept whatever people do or think, no matter what. Rather that we accept people no matter what, remembering that no one is fully defined by the worst thing they ever did. Or the next to worst thing!

One reason we do this with others is that we do it with ourselves. At least for myself, I can say that I do not fully accept or approve everything I do, but I don't quit accepting or affirming myself because of those faults. I keep on accepting myself and seek to improve in my fault areas.

In using the word acceptance I was also observing a difference between people and their institutions. We certainly have no duty to affirm or accept all that people create in their institutions, nor the ways they abuse as well as use power there.

Our critique and protest of empire is not an assertion that people who make some compromises with institutions of management and control are all bad. We are saying rather that we have a duty never to forget that the abuse of power is a persistent temptation, and there are no good reasons to turn a blind eye toward behaviors which exclude the world's poor and excluded people.

These distinctions, it seems to me, are ways that we stay in community with one another without sinking into delusion that in human behavior, everything is the same as everything else.

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