3528 – Tuesday, September 3, 2019 — Love versus Hate:  Does Hate Trump Love?

love versus hate

God calls us to love others, just as he loves us.  We show love to others by forgiving, accepting and honoring them.  —  From a quote in a Lutheran Church Brochure

Pick up a newspaper any day of the week.  How much love do you see?  Very little I would bet.  How much hate?  Pages and pages of hate.

  • Man kills seven and injures 31 with assault rifle.
  • Woman with five DUI’s kills mother and daughter in auto crash.
  • Israeli bomb attack kills fifteen jihadists.
  • Terrorist bomb kills 35 soldiers in Iraq.
  • Trump encourages beating up protesters.

I propose that you will find at least ten times more hate in the news than you do love.  But that is not news to you or anyone else, is it?  Newspapers exist to sell advertising, and nothing sells like hate, violence, gore, mayhem and disasters.  The crème de la crème is reserved for serial killings, mass killings and family murders.  Local news is full of crime stories from places that are thousands of miles away and that no one has ever heard of.  Bad news and hate crowd out the good and love that society has.  In a way it is ironic, since so many people in the world regard themselves as Christians.  Christianity professes to follow the teachings of a man named Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ (for those of you who might be unfamiliar with him) was a big advocate of love and peace.  Jesus told his followers “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  — John 13:34.  Jesus is also reputed to have said “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  — Mathew 5:44.  Another irony, considering that numerous Christian churches have supported racism and hatred towards Blacks and other minorities.

One would think that particularly in those parts of the United States dominated by Christian churches, love would blossom like a million flowers.  You would expect that in the so called “Bible Belt” you would see evidence of love and not hate everywhere you look.  If any place was against prejudice, discrimination, bigotry and ill will towards their fellow human beings, it should be in the Bible Belt.  Another irony, since according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the South has more hate groups than any other area of the United States.  Even more confusing, are the Christian ministers who preach hate and use Christs name to justify it.  This is a recent map of hate groups in the USA.


A few Sundays ago, Pastor Joe Major of Louisiana’s Faith Baptist Church gave a guest sermon at the Philippines church of Pastor Logan Robertson.  You’ll never guess what Major talked about.  In a sermon titled “Make the World Straight Again,” Major told the raucous crowd about how all homosexuals were inherently pedophiles and that’s why they deserved to be executed.  Several years past, the Rev. Steven Anderson quoted passages from the Old Testament to the congregation of his Faithful Word Baptist Church about the kinds of people God hates in Tempe Arizona.  Anderson told worshipers he interprets these passages to include Mr. Obama and that he prays for the president’s death.  Is it ironic that Anderson believes he is a Christian and promotes hate in the name of Jesus?

But enough looking at hate, what about love?  Can we find examples of love in the world?  Do we even know what love really is?  We all know the quote about “love is kind, love is patient, etc.”  But what is the difference between love and compassion or between love and mercy or between love and charity?  What about the role of forgiveness?  Can we have love without forgiveness?  Should we forgive everyone?

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,

with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry

and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness,

and your night will become like the noonday.  —

Isaiah, 58:9-10

Love can not exist in the dark.  Hate brings the dark.  Love is extinguished by hate. In order to have love, you must eliminate hate.  The two cannot go together.  Love opens the door.  Hate closes the door.  Love leads to mercy.  Hate leads to revenge.  Love leads to compassion.  Hate leads to scorn.  Love leads to forgiveness.  Hate leads to vendettas.  Love leads to charity.  Hate leads to greed.   If you want to bring love into the world, you must work to eliminate hate.  Love cannot blossom in a soil that is contaminated with the poison of hate.

I think we are love deprived today.  I mean real love.  Not love of things.  I love my car.  I love my new watch.  I love my blender.  This is not love.  This is idolatry.  It is a Madison avenue con that has been foisted on us to buy stuff and more stuff.  No where in the world do people own more stuff than in America.  Rich or poor in this country, we all have the disease of stuff.  We buy and sell and buy more stuff.  A t-shirt exhorts us to “shop till we drop.”  The midnight madness sales during the Holiday seasons are an ironic example of what it means to be really crazy.  Ironic, because when things matter more than people, we have a world that is truly mad and insane.  We have a world without love.

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



Revenge is Mine but is it Really Sweet?

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’, says the Lord.”  — Romans 12:19 Lex Talionis

Vendetta, revenge, retribution, retaliation, payback, getting even, the concept goes by many names but it all boils down to the same thing:  “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

  • Lex Talionis. the principle or law of retaliation that a punishment inflicted should correspond in degree and kind to the offense of the wrongdoer, as an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; retributive justice.

It is interesting that if you look in the Quran, Torah or New Testament, the three major works of the three key monotheistic religions, you will find numerous threats and accusations regarding the execution of the Lex Talionis principle.  However, in terms of the scholarly interpretation of the principle, most jurists or executors of the principle have preferred to rely on some form of restorative justice.  Those whose job it is to interpret these writings have realized that a literal, reciprocal and physical adaption of Lex Talionis would leave the world both blind and toothless.

  • Gandhi: “An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.”

revengeWhy then, do our political systems and countless pundits seem to be hell bent on applying a literal interpretation of Lex Talionis to world events?  There seems to be a major disconnect between our political systems and our spiritual systems.  Of course, many religious people also seem blind to the fact that their very religion does not readily endorse the idea of revenge or vengeance.  In the writings of Jesus:

  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. — Matthew 5:38-39

Back to the question, why do our nations seem to more often pursue a policy of Lex Talionis than a policy of restorative or compassionate justice?  Are such principles so at odds with our basic human nature as to render them worthless?   It is that possible that we can only be satisfied by tearing out the eyes or teeth of those who have done us harm?

Let us take a significant emotional event for almost every citizen of the USA.  The 911 bombings.  There was little doubt and probably even less discussion about any possibility of dialogue or détente with Al Qaeda.  In fact, even today, I am sure that most people reading this are aghast at such a suggestion.  Few voices were raised against the subsequent bombings in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Simon Critchley had this to say nearly ten years later about the US retaliation:

“Opposites attract — the awful violence of 9/11 is justified by Al Qaeda as an act of revenge that in turn justifies the violence of America’s and Bush’s revenge. My point is that revenge is an inevitably destructive motive for action. When we act out of revenge, revenge is what we will receive in return. The wheel of violence and counter-violence spins without end and leads inevitably to destruction.”  —- http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/08/the-cycle-of-revenge/?_r=0

No doubt it took ten years before Professor Critchley felt safe to utter the above sentiments.

I have to confess, I have never been a pacifist.  Those who know me would laugh at the idea.  In fact most people who know me would probably think that more often than not, I have endorsed the idea of vendetta or that “revenge is a dish best served cold.”  Thus, it might seem somewhat hypocritical for me to suggest that we should perhaps be looking at a different response to aggressive actions by our enemies.  However, such a response might actually be more proactive than reactive.  I seem to notice as I get older that proactive responses work out better than reactive responses.  Does anyone really think that the USA and the rest of the world is safer today after the obscene amount of money and lives spent on our socalled “War on Terrorism.”

“A March 2011 Congressional report[192] estimated spending related to the war through fiscal year 2011 at $1.2 trillion, and that spending through 2021 assuming a reduction to 45,000 troops would be $1.8 trillion. A June 2011 academic report[192] covering additional areas of spending related to the war estimated it through 2011 at $2.7 trillion, and long term spending at $5.4 trillion including interest.” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_on_Terror

The following table shows strictly USA casualties but the total casualties including Mideast civilians, terrorists and opposing military are probably well over 200,000 people.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ORB_survey_of_Iraq_War_casualties)

USA Wounded or Killed in the Mideast
US Military killed 6,639
US Military wounded 50,422
US DoD Civilians killed 16
US Civilians killed (includes 9/11 and after) 3,000 +
US Civilians wounded/injured 6,000 +
Total Americans killed (military and civilian) 9,655 +
Total Americans wounded/injured 56,422 +
Total American casualties 66,077 +


A few days ago, Marie Harf, a spokesperson for the US State Department suggested that instead of killing terrorists and destroying the economies of our purported Middle East enemies, we needed to find ways to help build up their economies.  Her suggestion was not simply criticized by many but was widely ridiculed for being naïve, liberal and too compassionate towards our enemies.  Of course, right wing commentators had a field day with bashing her:

Rush Limbaugh:  “This woman is an absolute throwback to 1960s, feel-good liberalism that is senseless.  It’s chickified, it denies reality, and this is the number two spokeswoman at the State Department.  Her boss is not very much more cogent.”

Sean Hannity:  “Among all of the stupid things that I think I have heard about radical Islam, the State Department jobs program has to be ranked the highest among them. I mean because if that’s their mentality, Colonel, then maybe we should give people free housing, terrorists housing, and maybe we should get them Ferraris, and Obamacare.  I’ve seen a lot of terrorists on TV that need dental work.  Maybe free dental care.  Maybe that will make them like us.”

There were few to be found on either the right or left who cared to come out and help Marie defend her comments.  Her subsequent efforts at an explanation only appeared to make matters worse.  Harf’s basic problem was that she wanted to attach a different perspective to the Middle East problem.  A perspective that implicitly refutes the principle of Lex Talionis.   If she was naive about anything, it was in assuming that she had a potential audience for a concept that remains foreign to many people.  It is a concept that thinks our respective enemies might be dealt with on some other plane then revenge and retribution.  It was one that does not exist for the majority of humanity since it is one that chooses to circumvent the principle of Lex Talionis.

“Lets get them Niggars!” 

“What do we do when we get them?”

“Hang-em, what else!”


hanging“Lets get them Injuns!”

“What do we do when we get em? Hang em?”

“Hangins too slow, we shoot em!”


“Lets get them Jews!”

“What do we do when we get em?”  Shoot em?

“No shootins too slow, we gas em!”


b-1bombing2Lets get them Commies!”

“What do we do when we get em?  Gas em?”

“No gas is not strong enough, we bomb em!”


“Lets get them Arabs!”

“What do we do when we get em?  Bomb em?”

“No bombings not precise enough, we drop a drone on em!”


“What goes around comes around” or “as you sow, so shall you reap” is the basic understanding of how karma, the law of cause and effect, works….This can seem like such a vicious cycle of action and reaction.  It’s practically impossible to live in this world without doing some wrong, whether out of anger, revenge, or just inattention. The teachings of the Gita and Hinduism are all about breaking this cycle of karma and transcending the material world and regaining entrance into the spiritual world.” —-Gadadhara Pandit Dasa 

ghandi-quote-on-forgivenessSomewhere this minute, a father, friend, soldier, leader, mother, sister, brother, aunt or co-worker is planning revenge.  Somewhere this minute, someone with a grudge will be planning to kill a whole bunch of people.  Somewhere this minute, someone who feels the need to right the wrongs in the world, will go out and massacre a whole bunch of innocent people.  Somewhere this minute, someone who feels you are wrong and they are right are planning to kill you.

  • Confucius said“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

Time for Questions.

Will Jesus’s admonition to turn the other cheek protect you or your loved ones?  Will the principle of Lex Talionis help you rest easier in your bed?  Will following Jesus or Lex bring back your loved ones?  Which principle is more likely to help prevent future carnage and mayhem?  Can we really love our enemies or is this simply a naïve idea that will never work in the real world?

Life is just beginning.

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.  But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism.” — George Washington





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