Love your Enemies
The commandment of Jesus to love the neighbour itself is troublesome; the complication to follow the commandment to love the enemies is further more. Interesting point about Jesus was, he practised what he preached. One holy Jesuit told me that love shouldn’t be understood only as a feeling or emotion; definitely the feelings are integral parts of many loving relationships. But love is more often a decision; a decision to do good to the other if I get a chance, beyond my sentiments. I have heard the same from many others too, later in my life. I think, that is a worthy definition of love in our relationship with people, who are considered or who became enemies.
Who are our enemies in the contemporary world? I am not looking at our personal enemity, which were created by some actions by them/us, or some misunderstanding etc. But enemy-creation is an important tool in our contemporary world. It is very much a reality in the political arena. Some might say….you are speaking about politics, and I am not interested in that. But I think, it is not only about the political parties, but about the life of the society in general.
Think of the relationship between India and Pakistan, India and China…. many more examples of hostile countries or hostile relationships do exist. It is true that each side have their own stories to justify the enemity. Such creation (or labelling) of other countries as enemies do have consequences, and the extent of it can be varied.
Another enemity that have more drastic consequences is the creation of the enemies within one country or one territory. It can be between people belonging to two identities — religions, cultures, tribes etc. Sometimes, that enemity is essential for the survival of the leader of one group; in most of the cases, it can be the result of over generalization -generalization of one or few evil/wrong acts committed by one or more members. Sadly, we never do such generalizations on the basis of good acts done.
It’s good to ask… what we can do as a Christian in such situations? Loving the enemies. (This can be even argued based on compassion in Buddhist spirituality, or similar concepts in other philosophies, thinking etc.) I don’t want to make a judgement on how many of us do; I think, many of us do, atleast in simple circumstances. But we hate more, in a few circumstances, which will be highlighted; those instances multiply the violence too. Are there examples of good acts?
Before looking into famous personalities, it’s good to remember the ordinary examples around us. People belonging to one religion or tribe or group protecting the so-called “enemies” from the attack of the fundamentalist elements of their religion/group. India, which have the long history of Hindu-Muslim violence, have innumerable examples in that category. And most of those people of good-will will say — we were just behaving as humans.
What about the international scenario? I think of activists in many countries like US, who have opposed strongly the actions of their country on another country in the name of alleged threats, communism etc etc. Naom Chomsky is the best example. I can’t forget the Russian intellectuals, citizens, activists (especially those in the country) who protested against the invasion of Ukraine. Such courageous decisions to love “their enemies” come at the cost of their life for many….
When our own community, group, society, country names another as an enemy — be slow to trust; and make more efforts in the direction of reconciliation or peace; that may be a contemporary interpretation of the Jesus’ command to love the enemies.