“But perfect love drives out fear…” (1 John 4:18)
My Mennonite mate and fellow peacemaker Mark Hurst of the AAANZ recently sent me a brilliant sermon that he had given in the US. It spoke to me about how radical being ‘neighbourly’ is in our world today:
“A film crew researching for a telemovie about the September 11 hijackers visited the neighbourhood in Germany where some of the hijackers lived for awhile and planned their attacks. One of the actors, trying to understand these men and trying to get into his role, came to this insight about Western culture:
“Nobody cares who you are, no neighbours say hi. We are not used to this in the Middle East. I often wonder what would have happened if someone had simply welcomed Mohammed Atta [one of the hijackers], said: ‘Hi, here’s a pie I baked earlier. Would you like some?’”
(Adam LeBor, “Meet The Neighbours”, The Weekend Australian, August 20-21, 2005, Inquirer, 22.)”
Later I heard “The Nature of Fear Debate” from the 2007 Australian Science Festival where they talked about terrorism. Fascinating listening in light of Mark’s comments. Reflecting on this a number things came to mind; the men I’ve worked in prison with, the ongoing war in Iraq, my experiences on the streets with people who are homeless, my work with students in conflict transformation, the violence in my own neighbourhood, and in my own heart. The power of Mark’s comments about simple humanising actions we all can do, really struck me. That maybe ‘love for neighbour’ isn’t sentimental but is our best form of ‘self-defence’. And has the power to move us beyond fear.
Both made me think of the Peace Tree Community’s Josh Hobby (pictured left vigiling with our friends John Dear and sister Theresa and below in the Lockridge Community Garden). Josh intervened in a domestic violence situation in our neighbourhood by taking over a cake he had baked. Not rocket science. But beautiful, brave and simple humanising actions we all can do that witness to the kingdom.
May bakers for a better world, generosity and creativity as a form of descalation and general neighbourliness increase! And may it start with us, with the people next door.