Good conquers evil. But are we willing to examine HOW?

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Good conquers evil. But are we willing to examine HOW?

I was contemplating this very notion this morning. The meaning of compassion has been heavy in my spirit lately, and I began to wonder… What about those evil monsters who commit heinous acts against innocent children? What about those self-righteous villainous leaders of cults who brainwash families into unimaginable territories of moral insanity? What about those money-hungry attorneys who defend the indefensible in their perpetual pursuit of luxury, at the expense of our judicial integrity? What about all of the alcoholic parents who procreate for the sole purpose of having a punching bag on which to release their frustrations by the use of senseless physical abuse?

It occurred to me that these are the deepest indications of the greater need for the very compassion I contemplate. Initially, I wanted to vomit just thinking about giving a child molester a compassionate hug, telling him that Jesus loves him deeply, that Christ knew he would be tormented with a broken mind and died for him anyway… I anticipate some hostile feedback to this comment, but in the grand scheme of things I’m willing to face anything anyone has to say about this… Because it is the very LACK OF COMPASSION that perpetuates the victimization of innocent people each and every day. Those children whose childhood was one giant lesson in self-defense grow up NOT KNOWING ANYTHING DIFFERENT. They grow up to become the same unloved and unloving, compassion-less abusers as the very people who raised them.

And the people who raised them were never taught their own worth, either.

It is a gut-wrenching cycle, and if we can collectively muster the courage to look this dark enigma straight in the face and face it for what it is, we’ll discover that the most BEAUTIFUL SOLUTION already lies within us.

Compassion. Forgiveness. Love.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

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25 responses »

  1. Wow, we just posted similar posts this time! It is quite the catch 22 to overcome. You are so very wise and your vision is untainted by conditioning! I hope people will be able to accept this message of truth. We are each other!

  2. This post brings about many thoughts:
    First: The cycle does begin with an unhealthy and dysfunctional family unit.
    Second: The behaviors are passed down to the next generation. For example, a child that is born with parents who are heroin addicts has a greater chance of becoming and addict, and passing the addiction down to their children, and so and so on…
    Third: The trick is breaking the cycle somehow, someway. This is no easy task (I know from experience) but it can be accomplished with great success.
    Fourth: Important for people who have dysfunctial family history to keep such things in mind during their entire life. Such as: “I know _____ runs in my family, so need to be aware of who I hang around with, as not to be tempted.”

    Examples of this would be babies born with a crack addiction (sad but true). There have been several that were able to grow and overcome such obsacles.

    Thought provoking article Brandy.

    • Thought provoking response! Very insightful points you make, Liz.

      Whether it be prenatal drug abuse, neglect, abuse, cult-like belief systems, extreme poverty, moral perversion, ridicule, enslavement, or evil of any kind; our children absorb the values we instill in them through our actions.

      I believe that there is nothing more powerful than compassion, and even more simply — in love.

      I don’t know a single person who was raised in an environment that was completely free from one of the above circumstances. Truly. I know a few people whose childhood was somewhat privileged, and fairly “normal” (although I do not believe such a normalcy exists), but to some extent there was some mild form or variation of a problematic parenting style.

      In every single case, you can distinctly identify the individuals whose disadvantages were balanced by the influence of real love. You can also distinctly identify which individuals were never exposed to forgiveness, compassion, mercy, patience, etc… Some form of the essence of love.

      The power of good is inherently stronger than the power of evil. There is something very wrong with any society who sets a standard of expectation on perfection; no parent is perfect, none of their parents were perfect, and none of our children will grow to be perfect parents one day either.

      But the power of good lies in the power of teaching an EXAMPLE of love. It isn’t black and white. There is no perfectly good person, as well as a completely evil person. The evil does not surrender through intolerance and punishment and hate; yes, I hate child molesters. But my hate will never stop them. Someone needs to rise up and reveal to them the EXAMPLE of love that they were never shown.

      Compassion. Mercy. Forgiveness.

      Only through these mechanisms will the good manifest its superiority over evil.

      Dynamic thoughts, Liz. Thanks for sharing.

  3. So… so… true! Exactly what we need; sometimes when things are done like this we tend to wonder “where’s the love?” but the better question is where is YOUR love? It’s a verb, an action word. Must reblog…

    • Many situations arise in our own personal lives and we find ourselves asking that pivotal question: “Where is the love?”

      As I’ve explored deeper into the heart of Christ, I have found great truth in your suggestion: the love we so desperately seek lies within us. Only love creates love. It is an act of sacrifice, not a fuzzy feel-good thing we are given by others. It is laying our pride down, laying our expectations down, and giving of ourselves completely no matter the cost, no matter the rewards or the very lack of benefit we more often encounter.

      If love and compassion were a means to immediate gratification for our own needs, the world would not be so full of evil.

      The world is full of evil because humanity is confused about what love truly means.

      As you said, love is a verb.

      And thanks for the reblog!

      • Where is the Love? Exactly. Huge question. Some of the most abused people actually do turn out to be the most loving. Sometimes the pain creates a miracle – like diamonds in the rough. Where else does that come from, but within?

        • Yes, Alarna! Heavy revvy stuff sister.

          What a magical perception you’ve shared. Pain (in some form; strife, lack, suffering, etc) is the only thing that can cause a miracle, by its very definition.

          Nice!

  4. Very important and thought provoking posting. I was struck by words you wrote in reply to lizeccentric7’s comment. You wrote “Someone needs to rise up and reveal to them the EXAMPLE of love that they were never shown.” This is both, I feel, a very Christian calling and one that, in the practising of it, would provoke anger from many outside and within the Christian community. To show any compassion to ‘the worst’ in society, those who commit acts so abhorrent that our natural reaction is to say “Throw them in the nearest dungeon, lock the door and throw away the key.” …or worse, must be one of the most difficult acts in the life and practise of a Christian. Yet God gives us the ability, via His Spirit, to do just that.

    As I’ve said though, I believe that battle is fought on two fronts. First, to summon the personal strength to show compassion to such a person. Second, to show compassion knowing that we ourselves are likely to be the target of anger from some elements within the Christian community itself (and we can well understand that anger for we feel it ourselves even as we know we ought to show compassion). In such cases, telling out detractors that we believe “This is what Jesus wants” can be a hard sell indeed.

    It is at such times that the extent and limits of the faith of the Christian community and individual is pushed to its extremity. Are we willing to do what we believe Christ desires, even when it both goes against the disgust at the crime that we ourselves feel, and when we know it will bring down upon us the wrath of sections of our own community? Its surely an example where the Christian belief of desiring to please God and do what we believe His will is, regardless of what anyone else thinks, is put under life changing pressure.

    On reading your posting I was reminded of times when I’ve heard on the news of appalling crimes being committed, and of the victims and/or their families saying that they forgive the perpetrator. I have wondered if I could say the same thing. I have much sympathy with the person who equally says “I cannot forgive.” I am a Christian yet I have had to ask if I could forgive. I know I am supposed to forgive, as Christ forgave, and I know that through His Spirit I have the capacity to forgive, yet fully submitting myself to that mindset does not come in any way easily. Then again, the Christian life, and the mindset we are frequently called on to display, which is so often the opposite of what we would naturally feel, was never going to be easy. Perhaps the best some can hope for, is to have the attitude that I’ve found myself taking when praying for people I find it hard to ‘get on with’. I know I ought to pray for them but I don’t want to. So I tell God that I will pray the words “Please bless (insert name here)” even though its not what I want or feel. By saying the words in spite of feeling the opposite, its a start, its an inroad for God’s Spirit to work with our attitude. Not an easy road but one worth taking all the same.

    One last thought. It has always struck me as something of a dilemma when singing the hymn ‘To God Be The Glory’. Its a very upbeat tune with powerful lyrics that uplift the soul and raise the spirits. Yet it contains the line “The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.” It has always struck me as horribly ironic that we sing those words with such enthusiasm yet, if we stop to think about it, “the vilest offender” is normally the very same person we would, in truth, be highly reluctant to offer a pardon to.

    My natural inclination is to say “I cannot forgive” yet I know that Christ offers forgiveness to all, without qualification.

    Another last thought (sorry, taking too long here)! Christ forgives upon the perpetrator being truly repentant. Are we called on to offer our forgiveness whether the perpetrator is repentant or not?

    • Jesus’s last words, spoken over the very people crucifying Him:

      Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.

      His love is without reason, without boundaries, without exception, without fail. In every season, on every occasion, forever was forever will be and I believe that’s what unconditional love means.

      Thank you so much for the depth of your response. Powerful stuff here, Somwhere Amazing.

      As for saying the words even when we do not feel them, Joseph Prince discusses this quite often. The bible says that there is life and death in the tongue. Our speech not only reveals our heart, it possesses the CREATIVE POWER and the AUTHORITY of Christ; speaking a word is the exact same process as planting a seed. We do not plant a fully grown avacado tree when we decide we want to grow avacados; we plant the seed from one avacado and we nurture it. We put the seed in the ground, we water it, we patiently wait while the sunlight beckons it to bloom forth, and a couple of years later we have a harvest testifying to our efforts. It’s not immediate and it requires huge faith. But in the very same way, we do the exact same harvesting with our words. I’ll let that sit.

      There is one television show that I actually watch on a regular basis. It’s called “I survived.” It is one hour long and consists of various individuals sharing their experience of living through some unbelievable horror. Most often the accounts involve house fires, lost at sea, kidnappings, escaping from a serial killer, or these types of situations. The show is very intense.

      I saw an episode recently that rocked me, to the core of my being.

      A woman (a single mother) was late dropping her daughter off at school one morning. She got her to class, returned to her car, and pulled back out of the parking lot. A man sat up in her backseat, covered her mouth with his left hand, pressed a large sharp blade against her throat, and told her to drive back home without making a scene. Once home, he told her to act normal, exit the car, and bring him inside.

      Once in the house, he zip-tied her hands and feet, gagged and bound her, and proceeded to brutally and violently rape and sodomize her for hours.

      When he took a break, he asked her why she was not struggling. Why she wasn’t hysterical. Why she wasn’t enraged. She could tell he had done this before, and that he had expected her to panic or at least try to wrestle away from him. She remained still, looking straight into his eyes.

      He was getting agitated. He wanted to know why she wasn’t screaming through her gag, shaking with rage, sobbing through the pair of panties he had forced in her mouth.

      She remained silent. He told her, “I’m going to take the gag off so you can answer me, but you better not make any stupid moves or you’re dead and your daughter won’t have a mommy anymore.”

      He sliced the gag off her face with his hunting knife.

      Calmly, and SINCERELY, she kept her eyes locked on his and as one tear finally fell she simply said to him, “I forgive you.”

      The man looked at her without saying a word. A stunned look came over his face and she could tell that he didn’t know what to do next. She had inadvertently taken control of the situation, catching him completely off guard.

      His eyes never left hers. Slowly, quietly, he said to her, “Nobody’s ever forgiven me for anything in my entire life.” Still looking at her, he slid the knife into its sheath, grabbed the comforter off her bed, used it to open her front door and left.

      After wriggling her way out of her bedroom and into her kitchen (still tied up and bound, naked and bleeding profusely) she called 911, lying there until police and medics arrived.

      After collecting evidence and conducting a state-wide manhunt, the investigation hit a brick wall on every single lead. In time, the case had gone dormant. With DNA evidence and a good description of the perpetrator, the trail simply went cold.

      Five years later a man on the other side of the US was arrested for a failed kidnapping/carjacking. Once in custody, his DNA was linked to her cold case from five years before… AS WELL AS THIRTEEN OTHER MURDERS OF SINGLE MOMS.

      The man who had done this to her was not just a sex-craved criminal: he was a SERIAL KILLER. Once confronted with the evidence, he confessed in gory detail to the slaying of twenty-four other women; ELEVEN OF WHICH HE WAS NOT PROSECTUED FOR, as the evidence was never uncovered.

      She was the only woman he did not kill.

      She believes the only thing that saved her life was her unfounded act of compassion. Against all reason, she looked him dead in the eyes and said, “I forgive you.”

      • Very welcome and thank you for your own reply. That’s an incredible story, the moment I started reading it I knew there was something both appalling and redemptive coming. But as we see at the cross, God’s glory can be seen in its most profound and spectacular expression in the places where evil appears to have achieved its greatest victories. There’s the ‘other side’ of grace, its most amazing form is sometimes only experienced after an event of extreme pain. Thank God He also gives amazing experiences without such pain. Of course, the story you tell raises questions of its own but I’ve taken up enough space so will leave those unexpressed!

        Oh, I accidentally clicked the ‘thumbs up’ icon after my own reply! Sorry, not being big headed, it was purely an accident!

        • If I’m following your brainwave, one of the questions this kind of situation may provoke is how God might allow such evil to run rampant in our lives… I touched slightly on this in a previous post, “To fly, the bird must be willing to fall.” Before I share the heart of that message, I want to be clear that from all of my own pursuit for the answer to that question, I’ve found one simple truth that helps us acquire perspective: God is not responsible for evil, satan is. Satan has dominion over this world and we are all prone to experience that reality at some point, but the more pertinent issue here is that our days are numbered and not one moment is guaranteed. The time in-between our birth and physical death is a blessing, no matter what tragedy transpires. I know people who have lost a child. I know people who were victims of extreme childhood abuse. This truth about God being there for us through it all, is real live breathing truth. It does not mean that God allowed us to be punished; it means that if you get by without major devastation you are truly blessed, but if (like most if us) you don’t have it so easy, it’s all about the deeper lesson of how we use those immense griefs to make a difference to a hurting world. In that previous article, I shared this:

          “Some of my greatest triumphs have been the darkest hours of my life. And in attempt to say something encouraging, people have told me that God never gives us more than we can handle. That’s ridiculous. I value the intentions behind the words, and usually it just helps to know somebody cares. But nowhere in the Bible does it say God sits on His throne handing out suffering according to our ability to endure it. It is against God’s nature to bring grief, anxiety, confusion, and strife. The ruler of this world is the enemy of our souls, and there is no guarantee that we get a free hallpass to skip out of second hour. Whether we like the lesson or not, it’s a pure gift that we are given in the teacher guiding us through it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” One of the most incredible things about God is His ability to use ANY situation, no matter how dark, how evil, how hopeless, and use it to be even more greatly glorified. Our small price to pay is discovering how to allow ourselves to fully experience the pain, instead of rushing towards some empty notion of being okay and refusing to learn from what’s really taking place.”

          Great discussion we have going here!

  5. Remember how Jesus said to turn the other cheek? Forgive seventy times seventy?
    What would happen if all “believers” actually did that – literally?
    How different would the world be and how fast… Just a thought that keeps rolling around in my head.
    One of the better posts I’ve read in a long while. Thank you.

    • Such keen insight you share. Powerful.

      I experience a similar sadness and disgust at the reality of how religion — Christianity specifically — has evolved into some sort of fraternity… Everyone ‘pledges’ their loyalty to joining the organization, ‘rushes’ to prove their commitment to the title that comes with it, goes through some various ritualistic initiation process whereby they are inducted into the badge-wearing membership, then joins the ranks of like-minded puppets perpetuating the meaninglessness of gathering together for the appearance of standing for something — for a few hours each week, tops — and then swiftly returns to their real world where they comfortably let it all hang out.

      That’s hurtful to the very belief Christianity claims to stand for. It’s a mime dancing in a see-through box; a speech given to the masses with no platform or microphone; a sacrifice and an honor without the sacrifice, or the honor.

      The true warriors for Christ are rarely seen in those crowds of bumper-sticker proclamations of faith and name brand clothing-adorned popular people who say all the right things at all the right times and stand behind white picket fences.

      The real warriors for Christ are the unseen men and women walking through the inner city streets, witnessing to the homeless and the broken, holding the drug-addicted and criminally-driven souls all the shiny people forgot about.

      They are the ones with reckless boldness, fearless honesty, selfless love, walking unacknowledged roads in unfamiliar places to find the lost and hurting world and heal it through actions of compassion instead of words of empty status acquisitions.

      They are the ones you never hear about, the ones gathering in increasing numbers on a constant basis; Sunday mornings they have church in the day shelters and their church is nothing more than assembly of love and heart-filled worship sung by the sacrifices they make for the lost.

      Friday nights and Tuesday afternoons. They don’t have the latest t-shirts worn as a statement of their beliefs. Their beliefs are written all over their faces, revealing themselves through every action they take in every moment of their day.

      That’s what “Jesus would do.” That’s what a real Christian is, and does. They may attend a traditional church — I’m not church-bashing here — but the church is not their IDENTITY. Their identity is the undeniable presence of the Holy Spirit, stirring within you every time you are near these people, brimming up and spilling out and making you wonder exactly what it is about them that’s so… DIFFERENT.

      Christianity is not a fraternity, and you don’t have to rush or pledge or be hazed to know the One and Only Everlasting God. The King of Kings is in your living room, in your memories, in your current circumstance and always with you, now and forever, like it or not. You cannot earn His approval because we are all unworthy. We are all broken and messed up and flawed in our own unique ways. His love can’t be earned because He gives it out of His own deepest, purest, UNCONDITIONAL love for us. Not because we pledged. You can experience His presence anywhere, anytime. Because even when you feel like God is a joke and life is stupid, He is still right beside you, right within you, loving you all the same.

      Thank you for reading and responding. Awesome perspective you have. I’m inside that perspective with you.

  6. This is indeed, as many have said, very thought-provoking! I agree with Travis that “we are each other!” in such a profound way. I know that sometimes, I get really mad, and who’s to say that I wouldn’t get mad at a child if I had one? I don’t know. There are people that do horrible things, but if I can’t hold that heart of compassion, then how can I expect to have that heart of compassion when looking at myself if ever I am faced with an urge to hurt another in a serious way? We are each other, we all have things that we have to get through, and some people have much more intense upbringings than others, or very bad traumas that I cannot fully empathize with, and if I went through them, perhaps I would react in the same way that they did. I think it is so incredibly beautiful to read this post and to see that yes, the cycle has to be broken, otherwise it just keeps going.
    If the Dalai Lama can forgive the government of China for taking over his home land, we can be capable of much more than we first imagine, I think. I love this.
    And, THANK YOU for mentioning me in your list of blogs that you like! I am so honored. I have had less time to blog than before, but I’m trying to get it back and intentionally be here, specifically because of posts like this that give me hope that we humans are still inherently GOOD 🙂 We just need to be brave enough to share our goodness, as you are doing here, magnificently!

    • It engages me on the most soulful level when my thoughts inspire others on some level, and the frequency of your perception is humbling in its unconditional compassion. You are one of the few I am confident calling “awakened.” …It’s insanely cool.

      To step outside of our intense range of emotions in the middle of our pain is such an unfamiliar idea that to attempt it on a regular basis feels almost more infuriating as the pain itself. Our ego rises up from the ashes and screams “HOLD UP… JUST WAIT A MINUTE HERE. WHAT ABOUT ME???”

      Well, I’m finding the greatest thing we can do for ourselves is not justify revenge by the immensity of our own suffering (no matter how wicked it might be, and no matter how much we believe s person deserves a taste of their own medicine), the sweetest revenge is the kind that sets a new example of humility and compassion. The revenge that really means something, that truly changes anything, is forgiveness. Because in that act of undeserved grace, we stop evil in its tracks and deny it control over us or our lives any longer. We take the wind from its sail. And oftentimes, the dark & sinister forces at work in a person are not WHO the person is… It is a magnified reflection of some similar evil done to them, and that is the real horror. That these broken, life-long suffering souls become consumed by their misery to the point that the only resolution for them is to show everyone else how deep their pain goes, to get everyone’s attention, loud and clearly asking if everyone is sure about how little they care. Because that’s how it feels to the victim who never finds peace and healing. If this doesn’t make sense, just examine the countless school massacres where bullied teens snap and go on ravenous, senseless killing sprees. That stuff is real, folks. It’s not made-for-tv-drama.

      And everyone shakes their heads when it happens as if it is inconceivable… And I get that. I truly do. But are we not all to blame on some level for the collective whole of our culture instilling such an abiding sense of isolation and hopelessness in the broken?

      I’m accountable for these things. And I’m making a difference. By walking in love towards those who have brutalized me, by forgiving the unforgivable things that people have done in my life.

      It’s not the people who are unforgivable, see. It’s the act itself. We can refuse evil without refusing love. The kind of love that transcends our practical idealized understanding of justice. True justice is the kind that conquered the demons within, before going to battle with the forces on the parameter.

      • See, now, why can’t those words be spoken on national television? 🙂

        I love your message, and I do feel like there is a LOT of hope coming up in the youth of today.

        The older people who are very closed minded are on their way out, as it goes. The people growing up today are going to have traumas and bad experiences; but they are also, I think at least, aware of a much greater capacity for love than was around when I was growing up. There is more of a movement towards accepting everyone now- at least in some circles- and it’s super cool to see. I don’t see it very closely, but my boyfriend’s brother is a lot younger than us, and we sort of watch it from his perspective- even our hometown, which was once very straight and narrow and rather icky, is now opening up to a wider sort of standard, if that makes sense…

        So hopefully, soon, there is less pain in general, fewer outbursts of people showing exactly how much pain they have silently been in, and we can progress as a world towards greater understanding and love and compassion- which I really truly feel that we are, even though there still is so much pain and hardness, it is slowly opening. Not sure if that makes sense, I am quite tired and in the middle of baking bread and soup..
        love! 🙂

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