Why do we struggle to remain humble? What is it about humility that is not easily embraced? Why are we quick to plant the flag of victory and stand with one foot on a foe to show our superiority? Why do we have to be first, best, ever right, in charge? Why, why, why?
I ask these questions first to myself. Even in small, superficial ways I long to control my life, and to skew the world to fit my perspective. I do things the best way, do I not? Or I want praise for a good action, instead of not even letting my left hand know what my right is doing. Or maybe I embrace a mantra because it benefits me, without recognizing the harm it causes others. Because it is all about me, right?
The question extends from me to my society. I’m struggling today, reading headlines and seeing commentary about bin Laden’s death. I understand the extreme responses on both ends of the spectrum. Some see his death as a way to prevent many other innocent people’s deaths (both in his homeland and abroad), and therefore are glad to see his power ended. The other viewpoint touts loving your enemies. I embrace the latter, but grapple with the manner it is sometimes delivered; it sounds sanctimonious and doesn’t acknowledge, at least in this context, that an active love stands against evil as well. (This is not a treatise on “just war” or whether or not that is an oxymoron. I think it’s more that I resent simplistic soundbites.)
I’m not trying to delve into a theoretical discussion on semantics, to make this be a cerebral exercise. I am genuinely asking what it means to love my enemies. If, for the sake of discussion, Osama bin Laden thought my life was not worthy because I am an infidel, if he thought my children’s lives not valuable, what does it mean to love him in that circumstance? Honestly, if it were just me, maybe I really could embrace pacifism. But I struggle with loving someone if it means responding to danger, to violence.
I know love isn’t passive. I get that. And it’s easy for me to spout beautiful statements when I’m miles away from some of the stark realities many people face. (I am not saying that bad things don’t happen around me, but that as a general statement, my life is free from the fear and/or danger that others encounter daily.) I want to love and I want evil to cease, and how that happens is murky to me. What is clear is that my heart is heavy that someone made in God’s image died, likely without knowing Him. And no matter how many evil, awful things that person did, God still loved him. I admit it: I don’t always want justice. I’d rather have repentance.