January 5, 2012

The Witness

"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Love your neighbor as yourself; this I say is the greatest of Commandments." The Judeo-Christian Bible

Not long ago the 14th Dalai Lama accepted an award recognizing his work for Witness: witness to peace, to compassionate living, for social justice.
The holocaust survivor and author Elie Weisel, author of Night, wrote he said, because his survival of the Shoah, he felt was for those who perished, who not longer have voices to speak, who need those who can speak for them, to tell their stories, so to make a just and equitable world in which the dignity of a person is evident. Weisel uses his writing and lectures, to speak for all those who perished. Without the Witness, the one who speaks for those who cannot, their story and they, themselves, are valueless and forgotten. He writes, he says, to tell their story so they will not be forgotten.

 The 1985 feature film, Witness, starring Harrison Ford makes just this subject its focus. A young boy observes a murder in a public place. He becomes the first witness in the story; the detective, John Book (Ford), investigates, finds a link to corruption. Someone tries to kill him, he escapes to become the second witness in the story. Injured, he makes his way to the home of an Amish family who cares for him; the family becomes the third witnesses to the harm caused by others. Finally those responsible for the injury of the detective, the perpetrators, find him and are now confronted by many in this close community of Amish, all spiritual and religious believers. They, as a community, form the final and most significant act of witness, tolling the bell, confronting the killers, and like the disciples of the Christ, they stand for justice and the common good. Their significant acts of witness mirror the way of the Lord in whom they trust.

In other parts of the world today there are those whose keenly felt sense of justice has driven them to revolution, to overthrow the unjust, the dictators and the despots of the world; they work for the common good, for freedom, for peace, and for love. Then there is the police officer, who in service and protection of his community, takes a bullet; the soldier who in defense of his country, of his comrades, comes under fire and those who suffered mightily in the Communist uprisings around the world during the previous century. The list goes on. Some we call heroes; some brave, and some wild-crazy. All are Witnesses for truth, for peace, and for social justice of all kinds. They include Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and so many more. Please add your own names here, and pray for the justice of this world. It all depends upon you.

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