“Passion … a dangerous word in our world today where it seems passion for some little thing or next to nothing burns like a raging forest fire ending in widespread destruction. Broken politics, broken lives, broken families, broken countries. The world would be better off without it. And yet, by some definitions, this kind of behavior hardly qualifies as real passion. According to these, what we really need is, in fact, more true passion.
Kierkegaard defined passion as an inward movement of the soul to embody an ethical or religious ideal. Passion is what changes thinking and talking about an ideal into actually living it. Furthermore, faith, Kierkegaard claimed, was the highest passion possible in a human being. To follow a no holds barred commitment to the belief that God loves us and whatever He allows to happen to us ultimately has purpose and meaning is our highest calling. But this also scares people to death. Maybe we fear such passion leads to crashing airplanes into skyscrapers. Or at least it will make us look foolish. So we settle for an evening of Netflix and Facebook. To be sure, we must be careful to crucify a self orientated way of being passionate. But what God really opposes and what we should really fear is talk and reflection without change, without action … lukewarm mediocracy forever drifting along with the flow.
This week we remember the Passion of Christ. This use of the word passion comes from the Latin word patior meaning to suffer. Here, passion refers to the suffering Jesus endured during the last hours of his life from his agony in the Garden to his death on the cross. However, we can also see passion according to Kierkegaard’s definition in Jesus’ last hours. Jesus held a commitment to the ideal of love and majestic obedience to the Father to the very end of himself. The very end. That’s 100% passion in the Kierkegaardian sense.
One of the reasons I have loved working with the Karen is their fundamental commitment to the ideal of selflessly caring for others. This passion is embodied not only in Karen as individuals but often as a whole community. Most of my Karen friends would say they care passionately for their own people. Many have stories of sacrifice that other Karen have made for them and they stand ready to return the favor. What I have also seen is a willingness to include outsiders in this community of care … anyone with needs. In fact, I have often had the privilege of being the one on the receiving end of that care. One time while hiking with some Karen friends, I slipped and dislocated my shoulder. Another friend, who also happened to be an experienced American ER doctor, was about 2 steps behind me when it happened. I went to my happy place as he gently put my shoulder back into place. We decided to continue with our teaching schedule although that would mean no X-rays for the time being. For the next two weeks, Raykaw (a dear Karen friend) and other Karen at the site took care of me like I was a favored son. I will never forget their quiet kindness and humble service. Even stronger evidence of this Karen passion for caring, however, is to witness them offer it to an enemy … to people who have done them real harm. Years ago, an enemy officer stepped on a landmine deep inside Karen state. While his own troops left him behind, the Karen community in the area took care of his immediate wounds and made arrangements for a medical consultation. They physically carried him for days through the jungle to get him the surgical care he needed. It took an entire community of people willing to care for an enemy to pull this off. One of those involved simply said, “what this man does with this, after getting treatment, is up to him … maybe this is God’s last chance for him.” Passion like this is quiet, unassuming, selfless and in my book all the more soul shattering for it. In contrast to a loud “passionate” rant on social media, these actions represent true Christ-like passion and actually carry the power to cause real change. That is the kind of passion I want in my life. And I thank God for the privilege of witnessing and being part of that quiet passion in my Karen friends.” – Dr.Mitch
Dr. Mitch has run several medical programs in remote places. He enjoys exploring new worlds with enthusiastic experts in their fields…anything in medicine, science, history, art, music, engineering, philosophy, multimedia and IT. He has recently conceded that he’s not likely going to get to go to the moon in his lifetime. But Antarctica is still on the list.