Priest paves path of non-violence

By  Sarah Grech, The Catholic Register
  • September 10, 2007

{mosimage}The Narrow Path, 1 hour 8 mins., directed by Gerard Thomas Straub, funded by The San Damiano Foundation.

TORONTO - The Narrow Path is a documentary about Jesuit Father John Dear, a devout pursuer of non-violence. In the film he speaks about the harm invoked by violence and war and how we can become a people working toward eliminating violence around the world.

He sets an example of standing up for his beliefs in the face of persecution, having been arrested more than 75 times in the pursuit of peace — one time for trespassing onto a U.S. military base and trying to dismantle a nuclear weapon.

Dear is an educated and well-spoken man. He has written more than 20 books and his preaching is so powerful it can make a person question anything they have ever heard or believed about war and violence. He believes “once you enter into the spiritual vision of reality, all life is sacred, everyone is our very blood sister and brother, you could never hurt another human being again.”

His feelings are so profoundly stated it leaves a person in awe of how courageous he is and how devoted he can be while pursuing his beliefs as meticulously as he does.

The documentary begins with Dear ironically listing the “anti-beatitudes,” a spin on the original beatitudes claiming that people who do wrong in the world are rewarded. Some of them include: “blessed are the powerful, the arrogant, those who dominate the planet, everything in the world is theirs” and “blessed are those who are never persecuted, never in trouble, for whom nothing ever goes wrong because they never spoke out for justice and peace, they are perfectly comfortable.”

One of the brilliant things about The Narrow Path is that it discusses common issues and beliefs of people in the world today and then disregards them. He explains how commonly held beliefs are contradictory and instead enlightens people with the truth.

Throughout the film he describes various experiences he has had and many people he has known died fighting for their beliefs. It makes him appear that much more credible, though the constant repetition of the phrase “pursuing the path of non-violence” gets a bit repetitive.

One of the experiences he discussed was his trip to an girls’ school in Baghdad. One girl asked: “Why are you trying to kill us? What have we done to you? We want to be friends with the kids in America.” This story emphasizes that what he says is real, it is happening throughout the world, and the majority of people either don’t care or don’t bother to do anything about it.

After watching The Narrow Path one might ask, “What am I doing for the good of humanity?” and “How have I helped anyone lately, or stood up for my beliefs?”

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