Browsing through the internet news today, my eyes crossed over the following headline:
"Attackers strike sect mosque in Pakistan, 80 dead..."
While unfortunately there's nothing shocking about reading such a headline due to it's common frequency, it's easy to detatch from such happenings and dismiss the violence and murder as mere political reprisals. A member of one sect killed someone from a rival sect so the rival sect responded in kind with a reprisal murder to "even the score".
The problem with this isn't hard to see. It depends on who is keeping score as to whether or not the score is ever "even". In fact, since the reprisal murder is usually based on killing any member of that group rather than seeking justice against the ones who perpetrated the original crime, a new "innocent" is killed each time. In essence, the score is never even. As Mohandas Ghandi wisely observed, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."
When I was a child I remember hearing about the clashes between the catholic and the protestants in Ireland. The enmity and mistrust was deep and one killing inevitably was met with a counter-attack and so on. I recall asking my mother why these two groups of Christians were killing each other, as they both belonged to a larger "group" of followers of the same God and that God had firmly instructed them not to engage in the behaviour that they were engaging in. Similarly in Pakistan many muslims kill other muslims somehow thinking they are doing the work of God in the process. I know this is forbidden in the Qur'an teachings. India's militant Hindus also have their own back and forth battles against the minority Christians and Muslims. This type of reprisal is not condoned in hindu scriptural teachings, yet the battles are usually waged in the name of God and often focus on attacking people at their place of worship.
One of the reasons I am so drawn to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is because of the wisdom and love that he displayed for all of mankind. He said "you have heard the expression 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth' but I tell you this: Do to others what you would have them do to you." He followed that with a statement of old, reminding us that it is not we who do the work of God, but God himself: "Vengeance is mine," says the Lord, "I will repay." He went even further to say, "You have heard it said to love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you. For even the worst among us can love those who show them love".
His words, if obeyed, literally break the unending cycle of reprisal. They leave the judgment of a man's heart to God, where it belongs.
Sometimes I get a little passionate about uncovering the truth. I try to do so because the world is clouded with lie upon lie. If I believe a lie, I will adjust my behaviour accordingly. I sometimes see my own "group" engaging in activities that seek will perpetuate a new circle of reprisals - and new eye for an eye - oftentimes based upon questionable evidence to begin with. Whether it is credible or not, every action has a consequence and must be understood as such. If I seek to call myself a follower of Christ, I must understand that the enemy is not fellow man, but that I wage war against principalities in the spiritual realm that seek to blind men to the truth. This is true not just on a wider level, but on a personal level as well. When I am hurt by someone, I must learn to let it go and not try to even the score.
As an aside, I do not think that this doctrine precludes legitimate self-defense. It simply indicates that one should not hold a record of wrong against another. In essence, each day is a new day.
Something to shoot for, anyway.