Monday, November 08, 2004

Doing unto others

This past Sunday, the priest at our church spoke on an element in the Gospel reading which centered on the Beatitudes.

His point was in part related to the recent political rancor, which you have all seen around you and which I have written about in some small way here. The passage in question is when Jesus said: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. . . . Do to others as you would have them do to you."

These words are challenging in even the best of times, but how in the world, I thought, can we live up to them today? How can we reconcile this admonition while being so angry about the positions held by our political opponents and the issues they advocate and the things they seem to want to accomplish?

I should have written down a lot of what he said soon after the service, but I didn't. I know he argued that we need to try and put the anger behind us and work together for the good of all. Most of all, I think he said that we need to remember the last part "Do to others as you would have them do to you."

But in my head, I'm thinking that "they" don't want that. "They" are not doing unto others because they don't see any sort of equality between them and the people they suppress. "They" are not going to follow the words of Jesus, I think to myself, because that would indicate a measure of equality and sameness that "they" desperately wish to avoid.

I know that in my head I am overgeneralizing, probably the same problem that "they" do all the time. The real problem, and I don't know who said this first, is that politics is a blunt instrument. It is not designed to be wielded in a precise and fine manner. It doesn't have the capacity to be careful and incisive. Politics smacks issues about and crudely shapes the roughest impression of what is intended. At least, that is what modern politics seems to be about.

What am I trying to get at here? I don't know, except to say (in a shocking revelation) that the ideals found in God's kingdom are sadly lacking here on earth. It is our job, I believe, to try and make those ideals come closer, but we are held back by our all-too-human problems of anger, memory, etc. Please understand that I am not saying "they" are justified because they are only human. Nor am I saying that we should forgive and forget because that is what Jesus wants.

I guess I can leave this with another passage in the same Gospel reading: "Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven."

Does that mean that you should just take it here on earth, and how does this help those who don't have faith in any of this? I think it means that you should try not to hate your enemies, but move on with your life. You can't ignore "them" and what they do. You can fight to advance your agenda in favor of theirs. But you can't hate them. You have to live your life honestly, truthfully, and hope that, through your actions and steadfastness, ignorance from every side can be shed and everyone can see what is true, what is real, and then focus on what must be done.

Whew. Now that I've gotten that off of my chest, let's move on to some other distractions.

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