Thursday, February 25, 2010

This week's lesson: meekness

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

Okay -- been there, done that.

It's worth remembering that some of this past century's nastiest governments did not come crashing down through violent means. No, it was not nuclear war that ended the Soviet Union; it was not guerrilla war that ended apartheid in South Africa. Instead, it the stubborn decency of million that brought down these regimes -- and others besides. 

Think of "People Power" in the Philippines.

The Civil Rights movement in this country.

Mohandas Gandhi in India.

Or the "Bulldozer Revolution" in Serbia, the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine, the "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon, the "Rose Revolution" in Georgia . . .

Well, you get the idea.    

In short, the "meek" have been pretty busy lately -- busy enough to dispel any idea that "meekness" is a synonym for "weakness." No, as The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words points out:
In Classical Greek, praus [meekness] means friendly, mild, gentle. . . . Words of the praus group are used of things (e.g., mild words, soothing medicines), animals (tame), and people (benevolent). It is a quality shown by friends, while stern harshness may be expected from an enemy. . . .
[Both praus and its synonym, epiekes] are opposed to unbridled anger, harshness, brutality, and self-expression. They represent character traits of the noble-minded, the wise who remain meek in the face of insults, the judge who is lenient in judgment, and the king who is kind in his rule. Hence these words appear often in pictures of the ideal ruler and in eulogies on men in high positions.
In a world full of harsh and violent people, in other words, it is only the strong who dare to be meek.

To be sure, they've not inherited the earth -- not yet. And if the past is any guide, then the "powers that be" won't give let them have it without a fight.

But the meek can afford to be patient . . .

Because history is on their side.

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