For those who pray, it is common to pray for our own needs and desires, as well as in gratitude for all we have in our lives. It is also common to pray for those we know, family, friends, and other community members in need. And finally, people often pray for strangers whom they see suffering, the victims of abuse, natural disasters, accidents, wars, torture and hate. This is good and as it should be. However there is one group who need prayer as the much as the rest of us and, in some ways, perhaps more. These are those I am calling the Rogues.
Who are the Rogues? These include all those who are doing harm, Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, the demagogues, those who pollute our planet, terrorist leaders and actors, as well as the man who beats his wife, the neighbor who stole your roses and the kid playing atrocious music late into the night. These are not only the thoughtless ones who may be so self-focused they either ignore or do not see the harm they do others. I also include those who intentionally do harm, whatever the reason or excuse. ‘It was done to me, so I have the right to do it to you.’ ‘I enjoy watching you squirm in fear.’ ‘I wanted it.’ ‘They are infidels who have brought it upon themselves.’
The first two principles in Unity are 1) God is good; and 2) We are made in the image of God so are also good at core. As expressions of God, all people are good at core. Unity practices affirmative prayer, where we affirm the highest good in everyone in every situation.
This is important regarding the Rogues for several reasons. Praying for the Rogues has the potential to reawaken them to awareness of their buried, innate goodness. With light, the darkness is broken. Seeing and knowing creates the possibility for anyone to change their ways. This would be a far preferable way to stop the violence and harm done than wars.
Yet praying for them is also important for us personally. Rather than the usual way of viewing the Rogues as horrible, non-human monsters, it is important to recognize them as humans who have gone down a really nasty path. They most definitely need to be stopped. Yet we lose something essential if we do not recognize in them our own potential for evil. One of the things I most dislike about the Rogues is they remind me that there, but for the choices I make and the grace of God, go I. Who has never reacted with greed, fear, rage or hate, even if on a much smaller scale?
If we pretend that we don’t have fearful and destructive thoughts and feelings, we leave ourselves open to acting on them in less than conscious ways. Ultimately by being aware of such feelings, we can choose not to act on them. We can discourage them from even arising. And when they do arise, we can choose not to feed them, no matter how self-righteous we may feel at the time.
When a copy of the Koran was torn and flushed by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison years ago, rioters across the world in Indonesia killed 5 Catholic nuns. The soldiers showed disrespect to a copy of others’ holy book. In self-righteous rage the rioters did far more harm to their religion and their own souls than destroying any number of copies of a book could.
So I am working to include the Rogues in my prayers, especially those who arise anger and loathing in me. This in no way limits my condemnation of their behaviors. Instead it helps me to be more compassionate to my own and others’ transgressions, and less likely to respond in similarly destructive ways.