Friday, April 08, 2005

JP II and non-violence

Only one thought today.
Yesterday's post referring to the Pope's legacy in Lebanon, and by association the Mid-East, points to the impact that his non-violent, non-accusatory messages planted seeds that we now see blooming in the form of popular movements toward representative governments.
The connecton is not a stretch.
John Paul II may not have been the only factor in these developments. But it is plain that what he said, how and when he spoke, and the content of his messages were an undeniable part of recent history.

Yesterday's column in the Wall Street Journal by Peggy Noonan adds to the picture of the Pope's contribution to the fall of Communism.

So it was a redeclaration of the Polish spirit, which is a free spirit. And those who were there went home a different people, a people who saw themselves differently, not as victims of history but as strugglers for Christ.

Another crucial thing happened, after the mass was over. Everyone who was there went home and turned on the news that night to see the pictures of the incredible crowd and the incredible pope. But state-controlled TV did not show the crowds. They did a brief report that showed a shot of the pope standing and speaking for a second or two. State television did not acknowledge or admit what a phenomenon John Paul's visit was, or what it had unleashed.

The people who had been at the mass could compare the reality they had witnessed with their own eyes with the propaganda their media reported. They could see the discrepancy. This left the people of Poland able to say at once and together, definitively, with no room for argument: It's all lies. Everything this government says is a lie. Everything it is is a lie.

Whatever legitimacy the government could pretend to, it began to lose. One by one the people of Poland said to themselves, or for themselves within themselves: It is over.

And when 10 million Poles said that to themselves, it was over in Poland. And when it was over in Poland, it was over in Eastern Europe. And when it was over in Eastern Europe, it was over in the Soviet Union. And when it was over in the Soviet Union, well, it was over.

That column is the best comment non the legacy of John Paul II I have read.
And reflecting on the message, I am convinced this morning that it is the most vivid example of non-violent direct action that we have seen in our time.

As the leaders of the world flock to today's funeral and hope to touch the hem of his garment, the world can see that the life and works of the late Pope will cast a very long shadow in history. And those of us favored to witness these times will always know that we were alive when something very important was unfolding before our eyes.

1 comment:

joanneA said...

Great blog John. Bob shared it with me today and I was blown away. As a previous Catholic I descovered there was much I did not know. Your read led to others and I had my eyes opened. The Holy Spirit was alive, well and active in Pope John Paul II