Friday, September 12, 2014

An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth--A Blind and Toothless World [Just Thoughts]

Just Thoughts: An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth?

There is justifiable anger when we hear that extremists in the Middle East have brutally executed two reporters. What should we as a country do about it?

Of course that is not easy to answer. We do have some guidance from Mahatma Gandhi, the believer in nonviolent activism in the pursuit of justice. Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth . . . leaves the world blind and toothless.” And we have the words of Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well” (Matthew 5:38-39).

A bit later in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45).

War and violence were certainly vivid realities in Jesus’ day, and Jesus, who himself was brutally executed, was not na├»ve about violence and revenge.


We need to find alternatives to violent revenge—which only gives birth to an ongoing cycle of revenge. Is there a way to break the cycle? Can Jesus’ words be put into action? What would the world look like if we paid attention to Gandhi’s warning and Jesus’ words?

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