It’s Christmas morning, and the Pope is praying for peace. I like Pope Francis (except for the fact that he lets the Catholic Church remain patriarchal). He has generally progressive and humane ideas about our responsibilities to one another in this life. But he’s wasting his time praying for peace.
Prayer has been a staple of the religious and, in emergencies, the non-religious for millennia. I assume every pope since the beginning of popes prayed for peace. We might ask ourselves why those prayers have not been answered.
For atheists, the answer is easy: no God.
For those who believe, from the fervent to the hopeful skeptic, the answer is more complicated.
Many say, He gave us free will, so He doesn’t intervene. Of course, if you believe that, you have just made the case for why prayer is a waste of time. He’s letting us do our thing, presumedly hoping we will learn from our sins and eventually evolve into more moral humans. (It’s always a He, right? This is Francis’s problem with women priests, I assume.)
If you believe He does intervene occasionally, you have to ask yourself when. Why does he permit so many children to starve to death worldwide? Or be butchered by their genocidal elders? Those poor babes don’t live long enough to learn any lessons. Really, if you look at life and world events, from wars to natural disasters, it’s hard to think God is involved in our day-to-day affairs.
He seems to have left it up to us.
Looked at that way, prayer is more of a complaint than anything else. “Help, we can’t fix this. Bail us out.”
But He’s not going to. He has left it up to us.
If that’s the case, I suggest we quit praying and start doing something about our troubles.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Vote for politicians who seek peace. Resist the urge to revert to tribal defensiveness. Open your hearts to the other.
2. Give time or money to organizations that help those in need. Go global or go local. Your choice.
3. Spread the word. Post on Facebook your hopes for peace and goodwill, and what you are doing to advance them. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Be a voice in the wilderness.
4. Reach out to those around you. Forgive old sins. Bandage old neglects. Stitch up the wounds of your friends and family.