I had the perfect chance to put my fancy words about “Love Your Neighbor” and “Be Kind to Your Enemies” into action this week. I flunked the test big time.
It was on the same day that I wrote these words:
“I have written often of my admiration for Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesus the Christ, with regard to their commitment to nonviolent solutions.
“‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you,’ Jesus said. ‘If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone takes your cloak, do not withhold your tunic as well.’ That’s hard advice to swallow, but it’s more likely to turn an enemy into a friend someday than killing that enemy and as many of his friends as you can.”
For today, I wrote an entire blog post about how, when tested on this score, I revealed myself to be a hypocrite. Once I finished, I realized I couldn’t tell the story because it would appear as if I was rationalizing or even justifying my nasty behavior toward someone with whom I have a serious disagreement.
Some people would read it and say, “Well, you had every right to behave that way.” Others would read it and say, “My Lord, Bluhm, you are a jerk.” But that’s not the point.
I had a chance to show love toward — well, “enemy” may be too strong a word, but certainly an adversary. I could have been kind and gentle. I could have done good to this person, blessed this person, and prayed for the person I felt was mistreating me. Nope, nope, nope. I was mean and rude.
All the incident ended up proving is what I wrote first: “That’s hard advice to swallow.” I had a chance to sit down with someone and educate each other about where and why we disagree. It may have resolved nothing, but at least it would clear some air. Opportunity lost.
But there will be a next time, and maybe next time I’ll take a deep breath and practice what I preach.