I am working my way through The Long Loneliness, an autobiography of Dorothy Day. As she was beginning her work in journalism, it was 1917 in New York City. A massive time of upheaval.
She was still not convinced of Christianity, but her work in journalism kept her from attending any meetings of Socialists, though she declared herself a Socialist at the time. In her writing and in her exploration of the tremendous upheaval in her world, Day was insightful in her observations of leaders and ideologies.
“Ideas dominated, rather than personalities.” (p. 66)
Constant agitation was going on in the world. Worker strikes. Political upheavals. Revolution in Russia. The Great War in Europe. But what dominated was the struggle of pure ideologies. Anarchism. Socialism. Capitalism. Communism.
She observed something that stirs in my mind constantly: when there is a pursuit of pure ideology, even though that particular ideal is supposed to help people, often what gets in the way are people who you think oppose you… and their ideas are not worth your time. Ideologies become more important than people. I see this same pattern today. It is part of our deep divisiveness.
Day offered this: “It was a time of constant agitation throughout the world. Perhaps people were looking for leaders; during the years ahead there would be Lenin and Trotsky, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Churchill, Roosevelt, men so dominated by ideas that they sacrifice to them countless millions of human beings.” (p. 67)
I most certainly have strong beliefs. I don’t have any real hope in any particular systems, whether they are “in play” right now or only theory. The systems of this world ultimately fail and history is the proof in that pudding. So, I have a deep belief in Christ and the Kingdom of God, along with the realization that his Kingdom is so powerful it is present in every system this world currently has… and often the Kingdom of God thrives in the hardest of areas (in our perceptions, anyway).
I certainly have a deeply held belief that the Kingdom of God transcends current political ideologies as well as any coming down the road. Yet, I do not hold militantly to this belief in a way that says this is the ONLY way, to the point that I make YOU submit to it or I just simply ignore you because you don’t agree 100% with me. That is not the way of the Kingdom.
So, while I hold strongly to Christ and his Kingdom, I do not bow to ideologies. When we bow to ideologies, as Dorothy Day observed, we will sacrifice a lot of people along the way.
I am finding Dorothy Day to be worth the time to learn more about and find out more in her writings. I am late to the game. I know.