Love for our enemies may compel us to downplay their abuse, but love for the victims should compel us not to.
“Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship.”
“We must recognize that the evil deed of the enemy-neighbor, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he is. An element of goodness may be found even in our worst enemy.“
Racists are nice people….
“Dr. E. Franklin Fraizer, in an interesting essay entitled ‘the Pathology of Race Prejudice,’ included several examples of white persons who were normal, amiable, and congenial in their day-to-day relationships with other white persons but when they were challenged to think of Negroes as equals or even to discuss the question of racial injustice, they reacted with unbelievable irrationality and an abnormal unbalance. This happens when hate lingers in our minds…”
I find the writings of Dr King useful in explaining how to love our enemy-neighbours (i.e. government supporters).
[Quotes from Dr Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love, Ch. 5: Loving your enemies]
They are enemies. (Eritrean president Issaias Afewerki and high-ranking officials)
When a government in ancient Persia decided to put an end to a religion it deemed hostile to the nation (Book of Esther), Mordecai went into great mourning. Mordecai believes in God and it was this faith that fueled the campaign against him and his fellow Jews in the first place. He had refused to bow down to a government official citing religion as his reason.
Mordecai didn’t find his faith in an able God conflicting with the idea of involving in a political solution. On the contrary, his faith gave him the confidence and the courage to make a dangerous political move. He messages his cousin Esther (who happens to be a Queen) and asks her to go before the King and plead for her people. He encourages the Queen who is about to risk her life by approaching the King without first being called, “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.” He continues, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?“1.
In many ways, the Eritrean Church is in a similar place. Its government is out to eradicate the religions they deem hostile to their rule. Eritrean churches and individual Christians, particularly those in the diaspora, are in a situation very similar to that of Queen Esther. Mordecai’s message is relevant today: For Eritrean Christians to remain completely silent at a time like this is unacceptable! …Yet who knows whether you have come to such a position for such a time as this?
The complete silence of Eritrean Churches to officially acknowledge the oppression in Eritrea, and their reluctance to encourage the faithful to involve in political solutions is strange. I have shared my views on this topic in an earlier article:
Mute and without opinion: The Eritrean Churchs
“The church must be the guide and the critic of the State and never its tool.” writes Dr Martin Luther King Jr, outraged by the silence of many American churches on the racial injustice of his time. The church, or any religious institution for that matter, should not hope to earn favours or avert scorn from government by such means as self-censoring on issues that the government labels “politics”. Especially not when the issues are well within the domain of the church’s teachings. Dr King continues and warns that unless the church recaptures its position in society as a guide and critic of the state “…it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.” [Open the full article]