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Jan 06, 1994 03:25 PM
by Gerald Schueler

Jesus taught that if someone hits us, we should turn the other cheek
and let them hit us again if they want to. Gotama Buddha taught much
the same thing some 500 years prior to Jesus. It is possible that Jesus
learned of this during his stay in Egypt because Alexandria was known
to contain many Buddhist monks and travelers in those days. Whatever
the case, we must ask ourselves why we should turn the other cheek.
Why should we return hatred with love and understanding?

Hate is a poison that slowly kills us over time if we give into it. It
leads us into all sorts of problems and unpleasant difficulties. A good
example of this is in the Bardo Thodol or Tibetan Book of the Dead
where hate, greed, and ignorance are given as the three main factors
in returning us to another life on Earth. It is even suggested that
these three factors can make us incarnate next time as an animal,
although theosophy disputes this. Thus we should eliminate hatred if
only to promote our own general health and welfare. But an even more
important reason is that life, all life, should be respected. Every
man and woman deserves to be treated as equal if only because at their
core, they are.

Suppose Joe Blow pulls out a gun and shoots his wife in a sudden rage
of hatred and dispair. Is Joe Blow an evil person? Was Joe Blow a good
person until the event and then became an evil person? Is Joe Blow a
victim of society? Is Joe Blow a victim of circumstances? Is Joe a
brutal vicious murderer who should have his own life taken? Now,
suppose that we look deeper into his history. Suppose that Joe Blow was
abused as a child. Suppose that he was continually beaten by his
stepfather as he grew up. Suppose that he watched TV and went to the
movies. Is it Joe's fault that his worldview includes violence as an
acceptable way to solve problems? Is it my fault? Is it yours?

No matter how we answer the above questions, we still must address the
question, How can we not hate Joe? One answer, or solution to the
problem, would be to separate Joe from his actions. Joe has behaviors,
he is not equal to those behaviors. Just an hour before he shot his
wife, Joe was petting his dog and kissing his child. He is, after all,
capable of expressing loving behaviors as well as violent ones. We can
hate and deplore his act of shooting his wife. We can hate the (rather
drastic) method that Joe used to solve his problem. We can also hate
the way Joe sometimes strikes his own children. But should we hate
Joe, who has a divine spark within him, just as surely as everyone
else? How can we hate Joe who is an expression of divine qualities? Do
we hate the Joe that loved and cared for his pet? Do we hate the Joe
who did meneal and disgusting jobs, when he could find them, to keep
bread on the table? Do we hate the Joe who spent all day yesterday
helping his neighbor paint his house? Should we hate those whose own
ignorance, born out of their own experiences, causes them to do
something that we or society consider bad? Obviously Joe should be
punished for his actions. Obviously an attempt should be made at
rehabilitation so that Joe can change his behaviors before he is
placed back into society. But hatred? It only poisons the systems of
those who would harbor it and will do nothing at all to help Joe.

                                       Jerry S.

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