Let’s Be Interrupters

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“Our happiness is all mixed up with each other’s happiness and our peace with each other’s peace. Our own happiness, our own peace, can never be complete until we find some way of sharing it with people who the way things are now have no happiness and know no peace. Jesus calls us to show this truth forth. Be the light of the world, he says. Where there are dark places, be the light especially there. Be the salt of the earth. Bring out the true flavor of what it is to be alive truly. Be truly alive. Be life-givers to others. That is what Jesus tells the disciples to be. That is what Jesus tells his Church, tells us, to be and do.”
–Frederick Buechner


“Hatred never ceases by hatred.
But by love alone is healed…”


“Peace between countries must rest on the solid foundation of love between individuals.”
–Mahatma Gandhi


“Blessed are the peacemakers.”


Lately, I’ve been trying to introduce my kids to the idea of being interrupters. Usually, we teach kids not to interrupt, that interrupting is rude. Often it is. But sometimes, interruption is exactly what is needed.

“He hit me.”

“She hit me first.”

“But he made a face at me.”

“Well, she . . . .”

And so it goes, has gone, and seems like it will always go. Both in my house and in the world at large.

So  now I find myself saying: “Kids, let’s interrupt this cycle. Let it stop with you. You don’t need to keep this going. Interrupt the rude, the mean, the fighting. Walk away if you need to. Respond with kindness or love if you can.”

We’re new to this interrupting business here. I’m not sure if or when it will sink in. But sometimes, my kids surprise me. They take in more than I give them credit for. “Remember when you were telling us that we should start practicing world peace at home, mom?” You remember that? I guess they do listen sometimes. I guess I’ll keep trying to spread my world peace message among my little people. It’s a good place to start.

A few years ago, I watched Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz’s documentary The Interrupters. This film followed former gang members in Chicago who were reaching out to current gang members, sometimes literally stepping right into the middle of an escalating altercation, hoping to put an end to the violence in their community. This movie was powerful. These interrupters were changing lives. They were in a position to make a difference in their world. I realized that if I tried to interrupt those same situations, the results would be tragically different. I have zero street credibility. Zero.

But I do have influence in some places. And I live in and participate in a world that is fraught with injustice, with fear, with anger. How can I be an interrupter?  What part can I play? We can all play a part.

Maybe it starts small like in my own heart. I can begin by choosing to keep my heart open and soft instead of letting it harden in fear or anger. I can choose to love. I can choose to show compassion to myself. And in turn, I can choose to show compassion to those around me. I can choose to respond in gentleness to my family. I can show compassion to my neighbors. I can extend love and compassion to those whose facebook posts express views that are different than mine, to those who might vote in ways that I don’t vote, to people who worship in ways that I don’t understand.

I can pray for eyes that begin to see everyone as a neighbor, a sister, a brother.

I can pray that this love flows out of my heart and through my hands in practical, life-giving ways.

Help me to be a holy interrupter.

“Our personal attempts to live humanely in this world are never wasted. Choosing to cultivate love rather than anger just might be what it takes to save the planet from extinction.”
–Pema Chödrön


“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”
–St. Francis



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