Saturday, August 15, 2009

Love Your Enemies

As I consider the contentious issues of our day, I'm grieved by the anger, fear, and divisiveness portrayed in media and actively promoted by various factions of our society. If we are truly one nation, then why should we reduce ourselves to such negativity? I confess that during the Bush years, I allowed the harsh political discourse to arouse feelings of anger and distrust. But after eight years, I've grown weary of the old paradigms of right vs. left, conservative vs. liberal. The right-left way of thinking allows us to feel righteous in our positions, but does little to solve real problems.

In the midst of our cultural battles, we hear of drifting morality and declining spiritual values. While this may be true, the solution does not rest in further resistance and vilification of those who may oppose our views. I would suggest an even more radical return to the basic teachings of Jesus: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matthew 5:44).

Can you imagine if our politicians, cultural commentators, and even many of our religious teachers actually took this one principle to heart? How might the world be transformed?

In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle says:

"Remember: Just as you cannot fight the darkness, so you cannot fight unconsciousness. If you try to do so, the polar opposites will become strengthened and more deeply entrenched. You will become identified with one of the polarities, you will create an 'enemy,' and so be drawn into unconsciousness yourself... make sure you carry no resistance within, no hatred, no negativity. 'Love your enemies,' said Jesus, which, of course, means 'have no enemies.'"

How easily do we create a world with no enemies? Not very. Even on the most simple levels, most of us struggle to create world peace when we curse the person who cuts us off in traffic or when we refuse to forgive those who offend us. In fact, I would suggest that "loving our enemies" requires persistence and effort; a lifelong spiritual discipline mastered only through deep sincerity, humility, awareness, and compassion.

Shall we not begin our practice today?


Anonymous said...

I think that certainly in the day-to-day life, we should treat others with honor and respect, regardless of the ideological leanings. And the current climate of political discourse makes it easy to villianize the other side. Imagine that people were really able to get together on an issue (e.g. gay marriage) and discuss on a most personal level, their feelings pro or con, and how their life experiences have led them to that position.

So much is hidden in terms like "oppression", "power
structure", and "racism".

Anger is so easily kindled when one side misrepresents the other side, or even there own side.

Barry Moses (Sulustu) said...

This is so true Matthew.

In all honesty, I still have a "side" that I've chosen for any number of social, cultural, and political issues. In fact, I feel very strongly about most of my opinions, but lately I hesitate to express them openly for fear of contributing to an environment of misunderstanding. I mean that for myself as much as anyone else. It's so easy for ME to jump to conclusions and to resist the views of others. I don't know an easy way out of this, but my heart tells me that there must be a way to create compassion and understanding between parties that disagree.


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