You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
A couple of days ago the United States announced that we had “incinerated” (by drone strike) Jihadi John, a prominent ISIS figure who has beheaded several Westerners on tape. There was much joy and rejoicing in the United States and the West. I’m sure there was sadness, anger and a doubling down of efforts across ISIS. Yesterday, radical Muslims in Paris killed somewhere between 120-150 people in a series of coordinated attacks across the city. There is is much sadness, anger and a promise to double down efforts from the West. There is joy and rejoicing from ISIS. I did not celebrate Jihadi John’s death. I have no problem with self defense. I have no problem with bringing criminals to justice. I have no problem with incinerating him. However, I will never celebrate the death of a fellow human being.
Before even going to bed, French President Hollande vowed a merciless response. Conservatives in the US said that France’s strict gun control was the cause of the murderers being so successful. We have seen this before. There will be a call for the US to respond by more violence in Syria and elsewhere. Syrian refugees hoping to get here can forget it as the xenophobes blame out of control immigration into Europe for the problem. Radical Christians will say “See we told you you can’t trust Muslims” as the Islamafascists point to Jihadi John’s death as an example of how much we hate Islam. The military industrial complex will fire up its machine as we buy more guns and bombs and jets to “keep us safe”.
First, from a purely pragmatic point of view, more guns, more bombs and more jets will never keep us safe from a small group of men not only willing to die, but wanting to die. 19 men pulled off 9/11. 8 men pulled off the attack last night. No military force in the world can stop 8 people on a planet of 7 billion from doing something murderous. We would do well to accept that. What we can control is our response. But, we won’t. Today someone actually posted on my wall “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” That is the exact mentality of the people who committed the murders in Paris. The Koran says that he who kills an innocent it is as if he has killed the whole world. But, in their sick twisted view of Islam, none of us are innocent. Too many of us believe the same thing about Muslims. And the beat goes on…
This morning as I was contemplating this, I asked how I am supposed to respond. I know how our nation will respond. I know how France and Europe will respond. I can’t be responsible for that. I can only control me. What came to me was this. I am engaged in a war, but my war is not with Islam or radical Islam nor with Christianity. My war is with the illusion that we are separate, finite beings. My weapons are not guns or bombs or even words of condemnation. My weapons are love and forgiveness. Everyone is talking about praying for Paris. And that’s cool. Do it. But, I was challenged. Jesus told me to pray for my “enemies”. I was told “If you want to be an advanced being, pray for the murderers.” How do I do that? What I was told was to try to first picture the murderers as humans. Stop seeing them as subhuman which is so easy to do. Then, to try to see them as sons, as fathers, as brothers. As someone’s loved one. Then try to understand their delusion. They believe they killed for a noble cause. A cause worth dying for. They believe they killed for Allah. They believed they would be in paradise today with 72 virgins.
When I think of them that way, it’s easier to have compassion for them. They were deluded men. They were flat out dead wrong. Their delusion led to the loss of many lives needlessly, including their own. They aren’t in paradise today. I believe they are in a temporary hell facing the terrible consequences of their actions. Learning what they did wrong and how it impacted so many.
I don’t have to ask what Jesus would do. I know. At the cross, He prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” It’s not my place to forgive them. And in my theology, their type of wrong will require massive correction. They will not get off lightly. What I will do today is do a metta meditation. I will sit and generate as much as love and compassion as I can and send it to ALL beings including these lost souls in hellish correction. I will pray for the opening of their eyes as the dross is burned away from them. God has not given up on them. He doesn’t give up on anyone.
For be, it’s not “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” It’s “Love them all.” Period. Paragraph.