I remember my powerful emotions when, many years ago, during the hazing period at a local university fraternity, the recruits were required to swim across a small lake on the campus. One young man had never learned to swim but he was told, ‘You don’t swim, you don’t join.’ He went into the water, sank to the bottom and drowned. Their defense was that everyone had been drinking.
For years, my chest tightened when I thought about what happened to that young man, but back then I thought, “If he was my son, I would make it my life’s mission to tear this university down.” I wanted revenge and the boy wasn’t my son! I wanted revenge, even though I believe, for the purpose of spiritual advancement, we choose our parents, our lives, and about how long we will live before we are born.
The rage at the seeming senselessness of so many incidents and the powerful desire for revenge is, to a large degree, why our world is not at peace. If you lived in a place where a wall separated you and your enemies, and they shot grenades over the wall at you, and you shot grenades over the wall at them, and members of their families died and members of your family died, could you become a peacemaker? Could you be the first to stop lobbing the grenades? If you stopped, but they did not, would you and your family just stand there and die? If they stopped, would you, also, giving up your war for . . . for what? The land? A principle? A belief that God loves you more than them?
No matter how holy any terrorist (or anyone standing on ‘God’s principle’) tries to make their attacks or justify their motives, war is war. War is death. War is human. War is hell. People standing on God’s foundation, like Mahatma Gandhi (who said, “Be the change you wish to see”) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (who said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that”) work for peace, not war. They see the never-ending cycles of revenge. They transcend their outrage. They put the problem into God’s all-healing hands and ask to find solutions in inspiration. They understand, they compromise, they heal, they make peace, but only arm-in-arm with God. Remember, where God is, there is love, forgiveness and compassion. Where God isn’t, there is war, acrimony, and arrogance.
“You shall know them by the fruit they bear.”