History has proven that chaos is the framework for most human endeavors. We have more chaotic moments than moments of serenity or peace. We have more sorrows and difficulties than experiences of Christ or Buddha consciousness. This chaos has reigned throughout human history.
So, hope is rather odd for me. I do not hope for blissful moments. I do not hope for rapture or some sort of anomaly to relieve me. Instead, I wish to experience the chaos. It is only in these experiences that we become mindful of the nuances we often miss due to anger, anxiety, or shortsightedness.
I find hope right in the midst of chaos. And what gives me hope at this particular juncture of history—ecologically, spiritually, socially—is that so much of our chaotic behavior has awakened us to be more reflective as human beings. What was once covered up, dressed up, even nurtured to appeal and appease, has now been laid bare.
For instance, when the previous president of these United States was sworn in and began his term, a new brand of chaos came through the woodwork of our society. It was more blatant with what it felt and believed. It stripped away the veneer to expose what lies beneath our smiles, our hugs, our neighborliness. It was the trigger, the opportunity for many with certain vitriolic beliefs and ideologies to come to the forefront and do more damage.
What gives me hope is that since that time we have also seen a resurgence among progressives, an equal uprising, a push back. We’ve seen people who were quiet in the past now saying what they are unwilling to tolerate. And this has brought new hope.
For instance, many African American mothers, fathers, and grandparents—folks who believed that their lives would always be marred by the system, that they would never see the hammer of justice come down—have a new sense of hope. Maybe now that the thermostat of what we feel about each other has been turned up, we will get somewhere! Maybe voices that were long silenced will now be heard! Maybe new alliances will be formed in the work for justice!
More and more young activists are addressing racism, inequality, injustice. This brings hope to all generations. So, in one way, I think that the array of tragedies we’ve experienced—from having a president who was narcissistic and autocratic, to the pandemic which broke down a lot of civility—have helped us discover what is truly beneath our skin. In this chaos, we are seeing it, hearing it, feeling it in a new way.
One of the terms people have used about me is prophetic iconoclast. There have always been those who cried out in the wilderness, speaking of the shape of things to come. John the Baptist was one, utilizing the chaos of his time to point towards a balanced way of living. MLK, Jr. was one, always lifting up his vision of what we can be if we make the effort.
Prophetically, what I see is a sort of Armageddon on the horizon. Archaically, this has always meant a cataclysmic war between good and evil, heaven and hell, the righteous and unrighteous. I see it as more complex and elegant.
We have witnessed the mutation of a perverse American iconography and its adherents. Relegating people to some future heaven or hell was not enough for them. They have now transformed their movement into one that uses violence and threats of violence. This new version of “Christian nationalism” seeks to arm itself not with righteousness, but with weapons of steel. They are not just fighting our words. They are now fighting our flesh.
While prayer and legislative responses are important, there has to emerge a righteousness that is willing to match that nationalistic ideology. And I have hope that this is already happening! I think what we are going to see is a very chaotically fed-up society that will become more progressive because they are willing to match the vitriol with a bright new movement of justice.
The Rev. Dr. Heiwa no Bushi is a Buddhist-Christian monk. He has advanced degrees in philosophy and systematic theology. He also received training in both Mahayana and Daishin Zen Buddhism. He places his teachings under the moniker of “BodhiChristo,” which means “enlightened Christ,” an amalgamation of the two rich streams of Buddhism and Christianity. You can read his book (co-authored with Krin Van Tatenhove) called “The Six Medicines of BodhiChristo” by downloading at this link.