At a discussion group last night i was reminded again of the quote by Mother Teresa concerning anti-war demonstrations. The exact quote is, “I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.”
This quote keeps coming up, prodding me, demanding my attention as if there is something about it I’ve been missing. I understood the concept of an anti-war demonstration putting the emphasis on war, the very thing the demonstration is organized to protest. What other significance is there? I took another look at the quote and saw it in a different light. “Anti-war”, while trying to be positive, places the emphasis on something that is negative. Organizing a pro-peace rally would be something positive to be sure, but would that be the only alternative? The essence of Mother Teresa’s thinking, it seems to me, is not in anti-war vs. pro-peace, but in positive vs. negative. To counteract a negative thing, it does mo good to place great emphasis on something that is equally negative. What is needed is emphasis on something positive.
That would be a natural thing for Mother Teresa to propose, for was that not the message of her whole life? To combat the ills and injustices of the world she did what she could to heal some of those ills and injustices. So, in approaching great injustices such as war or other work of negativity, perhaps the best course would not be to simply oppose it, but rather to engage in some positive activity that would improve some other sector of life. That makes sense. If all the energy that goes into protest against negativity, were turned into positive improvement of some sector of existence, who knows what volume of good works might be accomplished. Eventually, such a practice of positive activity might become the more common endeavor.