I don’t know if you ever played the game as a child, “What if?” I used to play it with friends when we were 10 and a few years on either side of that age; we’d imagine some scenario… “What if you saw someone shop-lifting, what would you do?” Or “What if you found a wallet, what would you do?” Now, we’d try to get silly or ask really, really hard “what if” questions. I always liked those thought games.
Asking “what if” is certainly more a child’s game than a purposeful adult exercise. None of us really know what we might do in any given circumstance; we might think we know what we’d do in the case of a fire, or a robbery while we are at home, or putting ourselves at risk to save someone, or when faced with violence, or … The truth is that we can have some approximation of what we might do because we know ourselves, but in the actual moment, who knows?
Jean Vanier tells a story of an Serbian Orthodox priest who, during the worst of the violence in the Balkans back in the 90’s, chose to defy his own his fellow Serbian citizens and hid Kosovars; this was during the worst violence against Kosovo, which as we know was very brutal. When the tide turned and the Serbs were having to own up to the violence perpetrated against others, this same priest chose stand between angry Kosovar mobs bent on revenge, and the Serbian citizens that were the object of mob violence. It was a dangerous tight-rope to walk. Vanier’s point was »»