Grace for Granted
This week we begin our discussion of grace from an axiomatic view. Not surprisingly, the word comes from the root word “axiom” from which another semi=popular word is derived, “maxim”. Axiom I comes from a Greek word meaning authority and the word itself is best defined as “that which is seen as fit”. Today axioms are those items which are seen as self-evident, those truths which are taken for granted.
The atrocities of war are horrible and one of the reasons for avoiding war if at all possible. There is no grace in war although many times simple acts of kindness become self-evident during the course of a war. The young Jewish teenager known to the world as Anne Frank lived a life as the recipient of grace, at least for a short time. Denied the right to immigrate to the United States by the USA, Anne Frank’s family needed a place to live, a place safe from the Nazi soldiers who were corralling all those of the Jewish faith and forcing them to live and die in concentration camps. For a period of time, the Frank family hid in the attic of a benevolent family. They received grace in staying alive because of this family but upon discovery, all grace ceased. Anne Frank kept a journal which her father later published. Both Anne and her sister died while in horrid captivity at a concentration camp, just weeks before they would have been rescued by Allied troops.
The journal of Anne Frank bespoke of the grace she found after the life she had lived and taken for granted was taken from her. It is a warning to us all to never take grace for granted because someone might let their ego convince them grace is a useless commodity which has no value.
The world was horrified as the true meaning and reality of the Nazi concentration camps came to light. The media was severely handicapped in the 1930’s and 40’s by the lack of technology and news did not travel within mili-seconds like it does today. As the Allies regained control, truth bore witness to the depravities and atrocities that man could inflict upon one another.
Today, however, is another age. In the twenty-first century, we have the ability to connect with others around the world in the blink of an eye. We have no excuse to ignore the lack of grace when mayhem, chaos, carnage, and destruction reigns down on the innocent. We cannot and should not assume an axiomatic stance toward grace. When mass killings occur, there is no grace to be found.
If you have ever read the Diary of Anne Frank and marveled at the tenacity of a young girl while destruction bore down on her, then look no further than the slaughter occurring today in Aleppo, Syria for an incredible parallel. Government military forces, backed by Syria’s President and Russian President Vladimir Putin are butchering civilians in their homes as the city falls. The situation is complicated, and there are no quick solutions.
There’s a great and important conversation to be had about the role of nations becoming a part of the history of other nations in the world today, but this isn’t the time. The question before us with the Syrian situation is not one of politics but of grace. One thing must be clear: The guilt and shame of these deaths lie on all of us, on the murderers themselves.
We must ignore the politicians both in the US and abroad who seek to flirt with men like Vladmir Putin for the sake of crony capitalism. We need to exercise grace and act so that action prevents the immoral who enable children to be executed in the streets.
The dozens of those who claim Christian or Jewish or Islamic values, who knowingly risked the safety of thousands for their own comfort and political expediency, do not portray the grace of their beliefs when they allow such slaughter to occur but rather the humiliation of their failure to act with grace. They are just the men and women in suits who play dice with the lives of millions from behind finely polished desks a world away.
Shame also extends to the citizens of countries throughout the world who are more concerned with selfish nationalistic interests than the basic human rights of people who don’t look like us. There are billions of the faithful, religious and spiritualists who recoil in horror and then change the channel when the news bespeaks of these horrors, ignoring the most basic of mandates from their Creator.
We must take action and not take for granted that grace lives. It lives in the world only when we act, supporting those who are at the front lines offering sanctuary, aid, food, and medical comfort. As we live grace by helping, we must also extend grace to both the slaughtered and the butchers. Grace is not multiple choice. Ernest Hemingway once said “Courage is grace under pressure.” An axiom is any mathematical statement that serves as a starting point from which other statements are logically derived. Our axiom is that grace is real. Therefore, the axiomatic approach concludes that, once established as being viable, grace can accomplish wonders. Can you find the courage to do something and extend grace today?