Thinking Anew – Turning the other cheek
Turning the other cheek is an appeal to human reason. It asks us to use our intelligence to find better ways of dealing with the things that are wrong in our world.
An eye for an eye and the world goes blind. Estimates suggest that one in every three people in the world is some sort of Christian or other. With such numbers you would imagine that turning the other cheek would be a big part of life. It is not. The eye-for-eye of pre-Christianity flavours the world still.
At heart we prefer the story of the peace talks, the amnesty and the ceasefire to the upsetting reports of conflict. Human beings can be argumentative but are not naturally confrontational and most of us prefer to avoid it. Our bodies developed no features that are reliable for either attack or defence. We are designed to be vulnerable and we are. We are most vulnerable to each other.
Intelligence is our best shield, clever arguments and catchy slogans the best sword. We identify a group we can make more vulnerable and, gradually, the scant protection of political correctness gives way and a single fact becomes a universal truth. Turning the other cheek is not a visible feature of what is unfolding in a 33 per cent Christian world these days. The voice of Christ is not to be heard. There are press releases from church leaders at times but what about ordinary Christians? How many bright and gifted people remain silent as certain groups become more and more vilified in daily conversation?
Fear and avoiding confrontation explain some of this silence. There are groups within society that have so many tales, myths and legends attached to them they become risky to defend. In all probability a number of these tales will be true and their truth proves all the myths and legends. Ten true tales of bad Bencovians do not make it true that all Bencovians are bad.
Sometimes you have to be very brave to say that. Its simple truthfulness is no guarantee against confrontation. Mentioning it can sometimes lead to isolation for the one who dared to say it.
There is no doubt that there are bad people in the world. Anybody who exploits the vulnerability of another person in bad. It is that simple. Being bad is not a characteristic of any human group. Badness does not live in societies it lives in individuals. Most Bencovians are probably as concerned with addressing the problem of the bad Bencovian as we are.
By making them all bad we increase the power base of the bad one and deny ourselves the assistance of the good ones for helping address the problem effectively.
The eye-for-eye mentality trumps the voice of Christ and drowns it out completely as it filters down to the water cooler.
Sometimes we need a quiet reminder of a simple truth. A lazy worker with one particular characteristic does not mean that all workers of similar characteristic are lazy too. Turning the other cheek looks at things from a different angle. It is not an invitation to masochism, but it is a suggestion to look beyond the attack and to seek a lasting resolution.
Retaliation and escalation have soured relationships at every level of our lives, alone, among friends or in a multitude. Do we have any stories of their success? And still we persist.
Turning the other cheek is an appeal to human reason. It asks us to use our intelligence to find better ways of dealing with the things that are wrong in our world. An eye for an eye and the world goes blind and meekly blind at that. Jesus believed we were capable of better.