“Imagine the vanity of thinking that your enemy can do you more damage than your enmity.”
– St. Augustine
You know what’s so tragic to me about the current violence tearing jagged, gaping holes in our notion that goodness will always prevail, besides the obvious loss of life, dignity, and innocence of course?
It’s evil’s backdoor sneak attack on our outraged hearts.
I have felt it myself, the anger bubbling up like a volcano threatening to erupt into vitriolic speeches against this and that and everything that goes against my personal sense of morality and justice. It sets me on edge, that kind of anger, keeps me poised to pounce.
Being so susceptible to arrogance, envy, impatience, resentment, etc, however, the tricky by-product of me “taking a stand” for what I believe in is too often bitterness toward the person or persons opposed to my beliefs. And bitterness and mercy, much less peace of soul, cannot co-exist.
When mercy is squelched, evil rejoices.
Christianity without compassion is only a religion and religion without compassion, as we have seen over and over again in history, and are seeing now in living color on our television sets, gives birth to the greatest of evils.
- Fr. Antony Hughes
It would seem then to respond to evil with love and meekness would be a much more radical and “unearthly” approach, and more in line with Jesus’ response, after being beaten and humiliated on the cross, of “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His “meekness” in that case did not imply weakness but incredible strength and discipline. To “react” is human, but to hold one’s tongue and not be shaken is divine.
We must learn to not react. This is just a corollary of “turn the other cheek.” When somebody says something hurtful, or somebody does something hurtful, what is it that’s being hurt? It’s our ego. Nobody can truly hurt us. They might cause some physical pain, or emotional pain. They might even kill our body. But nobody can hurt our true selves. We have to take responsibility for our own reactions.
- Metropolitan Jonah, Do Not Resent, Do Not React, Keep Inner Stillness
Christ-fueled kindness, gentleness and self-control stand out amid impulsiveness and hatred like a lighthouse in a storm. This world, I dare suggest, is starving for hope and empathy. I’d rather dedicate my days to providing healing whenever and wherever I can than to becoming one more impassioned voice in a never ending shouting match in which no minds are changed or spirits softened.