Sharing this quote (written over 100 years ago) is not meant to be an argument against appropriate security measures. Nor is it intended to be an excuse for rose-tinted thinking.
But as we once more grieve those lost, and love those still grieving, it is a thought-provoking question to ask ourselves: “How do we see beyond the horror of terrorist attacks to fulfil the demand (and example) of Jesus to love even those who did, and still do, brutally attack us?”
A friend of mine once told me how her father, a fanatical Islamist before that phrase had been coined, went to kill a Christian minister in his Middle Eastern nation some decades ago. When he came into the minister’s presence he was so overwhelmed by the sense of love he felt that he dropped down on his knees in front of him and asked his intended victim to pray for him. Not only was the would-be assassin no longer able to carry out the intended murder, but he and his family lost all animosity towards Christianity.
It’s not easy to meet the divine demand to love our enemies in this way, as Jesus counselled us to do (Luke 6:35). But we all yearn to see progress in overcoming today’s tragic conflicts. So this is a contribution we can strive to make – to set our hearts on feeling and expressing the extraordinary power of spiritual love which can change hatred to peace, anger to forgiveness, and grief (and grievances!) to a prayerful recognition of the true nature of both our loved ones (whether with us or departed) and our enemies as God’s eternal, divine daughters and sons.
Read spiritually, the Bible is ultimately about that love. And there’s another helpful “how to” of putting such love into practice in a powerful article by Mary Baker Eddy in her “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896”. It’s called “Love Your Enemies” and it further builds on the idea voiced in this photo-quote.
This is not about sacrificing safety, but seeking it out on a more sure, spiritual basis. Here’s another thought from the same chapter: “Can height, or depth, or any other creature separate you from the Love that is omnipresent good, — that blesses infinitely one and all?”
We all want to lose our enemies. So if other options aren’t yielding that desired result, or aren’t bringing needed change at the desired pace, isn’t it worth exploring all possibilities, including the power of prayer?
It’s never too late to dig deeper into the understanding of what it truly means to turn the other cheek, however challenging that may seem in today’s currents, and strive to know even our enemies as their divine Parent, God, knows them to be – divinely created to bless, not harm, one and all.
PHOTO IS: “Rest In Peace September 11 Victims Mural on U near 14th Street, NW, Washington DC on Tuesday, 21 June 2005 by Elvert Barnes Photography” (Flickr Creative Commons).