HAYDEN HOLLINGSWORTH: Love Your Enemies? Not Likely!

Hayden Hollingsworth

Well, it’s happened again and I don’t suppose anyone is really surprised.  A terribly misguided person (or group) has found it expedient to blow up innocent people, with children among them just because they want to spread terror.  There can be no other possible motive.

Military targets, munitions plants, political headquarters . . . perhaps motives can be understood there, but never justified when innocent lives are lost.  Love the perpetrators?  That’s beyond possible for most of us.

But I want to pose a question: How do people ever get to the point that they consider such horror justifiable?

Maybe an analogy will help.  Think about a newly manufactured computer.  All the components are designed to function in a precise way but the hard drive is blank; it is awaiting information to be placed on it.  That can be anything, good or terrifically bad.

At the moment of birth the infant is analogous to the computer; the brain is, as far as we know, blank but ready to receive data. No one can dispute that we all got here by the same miraculous path.  Two single cells join at exactly the right time and place to grow into a human baby.  The infant nearly always has the right equipment in place to survive if given the proper care.

Where this all takes place is a matter of chance and how they develop is largely a product of their environment.  While heredity plays a significant role in development, there are, to my knowledge, no data that show some infants are born evil.  Evil comes from the environment and the culture in which they happen to be raised.

We are quick to blame all the evil groups who conspire to kill us; that is a totally reasonable response.  They happen to have been born in a small culture which contains elements of homicidal hostility toward others.  Through no choosing their “hard drive” may have been filled with violence and hate from infancy.  That doesn’t justify any of their actions but the chance to develop into another type of person is unlikely in the extreme given the cult that shaped them.

Turn the clock back a thousand years and we find that our ancestors from Western Europe were engaged in massive ethnic cleansing that dwarfs the violence and brutality of ISIS, al Qaida or any similar group.

Remember the “Christian” crusades.  Four hundred years of genocide of Muslim and Jews so violent that the streets of Jerusalem were said to be ankle deep in blood.  As if that wasn’t enough, Christianity then ramped up into the Inquisition.

These horrific centuries were the product of misguided interpretation of the Bible.  Our culture is still suffering under a similar problem in our dealings with racism, so we should not be too smug about our past. There has been progress but in many cases hate still trumps love.

So loving our enemies seems to be a totally insane idea.

But consider this – none of us were able to select our parents, the time and place we were born; we were all precious infants greeted with variable amounts of joy. The culture in which we were raised, the love (or the lack thereof) in which we learned our value system shaped us.

Had those factors been different, each of us would now be unrecognizable as to who we currently are. Thus, it might change our view to remember that these suicidal enemies were once loveable little babies whose lives were distorted by the false belief system in which they were raised.

In that sense we should pity them and remember that we all came from the same Creator.  Someday maybe we will learn that love does defeat hate but that doesn’t seem likely.  One thing is apparent: the methods we have applied for centuries don’t seem to have solved anything, but we shouldn’t give up trying.

Hayden Hollingsworth

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