Saturday, July 16, 2016

Turning the Other Cheek

The older I get, the more appalled I become at the state of humanity. It makes me angry when people are unkind. It frustrates me when people are selfish. It's disheartening to discover how greedy & arrogant people can be. It's annoying to watch them spend their money & time to pursue frivolous things. I feel vindictive when someone breaks the law. I'm tempted to despair when people flaunt a lack of common sense & morality & expect authorities to regulate it. People are like little lemmings, hurdling toward the edge of... what? All is darkness anyway, so eat, drink & be merry. Has it always been like this, or do things just become more clear with age?

As a Christian, I'm not supposed to be unkind, selfish, greedy, arrogant, lawless or immoral... like them. But then, I'm not supposed to be angry, frustrated, disheartened, annoyed, vindictive or despairing either. When my internal responses only serve to fan the flame of darkness, I become nothing more than the devil's pawn.

What to do? Do I "turn the other cheek" as Jesus said? It's just an invitation to get hit again... and how will passivity change anything? In reality, turning the other cheek gives me the power in the situation. How? No matter what the offender does to me, I at least get to choose whether I align myself with darkness or light. If I align myself with darkness by responding in kind, I become a prisoner, a pawn (& surrender is easy). Darkness perpetuates darkness. If I turn the other cheek, I align myself with light. Something changes in me. I become... a Christian...  in service to God & to my neighbor (My what?!). Much to my dismay, I have to keep reminding myself that "humanity" isn't the enemy. When I align myself with light, its fruits (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control) are anything but passive responses to the offender... er, my neighbor... because light perpetuates light.