This week highlights our 5th commitment: “Love
our neighbors and enemies, pursuing wholistic peace with justice.” We didn’t plan for it to coincide with the
anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the US, but it does.
When Jesus says, in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies and
pray for those who persecute you,” he was talking to the crowds of people who
had come to him. They were not the
powerful determining national foreign policy.
They were the poor and the sick.
Julie Hart will be preaching on this topic on Sunday –
nothing like outsourcing the hard ones – and I suggest that, among other
things, loving our enemies is a strategy for soul survival, even in traumatic
Trauma is a very real thing.
It traps one in an experience of powerlessness and can come to define
one’s life and outlook. Enemy-love is
strangely connected with self-love in the sense that it begins to loosen the
grip the enemy, and traumatic experience, has over one’s selfhood. Compassion and kindness toward oneself takes
the control out of the enemy’s will to define the terms of the
relationship. Love of enemy is a far
horizon, but moving toward it is another way of saying, “The harm you have
caused me is not the defining feature of my life. I refuse to allow you to define the terms of
our relationship and my relationship with my own life. I refuse to hate you. I hope that my compassion for myself can
ultimately overflow toward you.”
If our collective will as a nation had even a hint of such
an inclination it would make for a very different kind of foreign policy.
Ultimately, love, in all its forms, is a gift from God and
not merely something we conjure through trying harder.