Love your enemies —Matthew 5:4
Festive seasons are those periods of the year when the deeply religious pause briefly from their usual everyday concerns to reflect deeply on some issues of common human concern, most especially on the subject of LOVE. These seasonal reactions seem to have been programmed into us. Just like a reflex action, we begin to sermonize about love, make elaborate preparations to celebrate it, send wonderful messages to supposed loved ones, not necessarily because they really stem from the deeper recesses of our hearts, nor that we really wish to excoriate all our selfish desires, but because they are yearly routines; mechanical reactions to the promptings of the times.
It is very easy to pronounce the word “love”; one syllable and one vowel sound. But love is a word and a word is simply a symbol for expressing a thought. What comes to mind when we mention the word love? Now, different people have different connotations of love depending on their personal idiosyncrasies, experiences and environments. But due largely to conditioning we are quick to define love from very narrow, often times, selfish standpoints as either erotic relationships between members of the opposite sex, or affectionate relations among close associates or relatives; a restrictive connotation that does not take other salient indices into cognizance.
Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, Hinduism, Traditional Religions and other belief systems contain salient teachings on love and the universal brotherhood of man. But the question is, despite the obvious utilitarian values of love, as expounded in the teachings of most of the world’s major religions, why does unbridled hatred, racism, ethnicity, religious intolerance, and other avoidable animosities continue to define relations among men and nations? Hatred fed by ignorance, bigotry and propaganda continues to accelerate globally at an alarming rate. Men and nations seem to have lost all sense of decorum as they pursue largely parochial, selfish ends, inadvertently pushing the world closer to the precipice of mutual assured annihilation.
The shocking exhibitions of man’s beastly capacities have defined the trajectories of human historical evolution. Bottled up animosities dating back centuries have resulted in mass pogroms, forced displacement of persons, systematic starvation, razing of homes and entire villages. Some of these sadistic dispositions include: the maniacal extermination of over six million defenseless Jews by Adolph Hitler and his bloodthirsty goons in the heinous Holocaust of World War II, the tribal hatred that reared its head in Rwanda between Hutu and Tutsi Brothers, which resulted in the death of thousands, especially of the Tutsi population, the mass genocide launched against members of the Igbo ethnic group resident in Northern Nigeria prelude to the Nigerian Civil War, the senseless terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, New York City, Unites States of America, and several other avoidable acts of violence that have conspired to transform the world into one giant potpourri of confusion. Man has sadly tended to dominate his fellow man to his injury (Ecclesiastes 8:9).
We have largely paid lip service to love. The many ugly faces of man’s violent, selfish and uncaring deportment stare us on our faces, everywhere we turn. In standards of living, access to health care and education etc., man’s inhumanity to his fellow man resonates like a sonorous dirge. Despite regular, largely pseudo expressions of love to one another, especially during seasonal festivities, unbridled hatred lies deep-seated in men’s hearts like a malignant cancer that defies therapy, spreading menacingly across all facets of human society, leaving behind plethora of visceral pains. Yet, every year, we expend tremendous energy, money, time and sundry other resources that would have been put to better uses, in celebrating a mere utopia we don’t believe in, just because we want to identify with an ideal, we preach, but don’t practice.
Love has taken flight from the affairs of men; hatred bestrides the world like a Catalytic Deluge. What is really wrong with the world? Where is the love in this world of man-made inequalities driven by greed and hatred? Where is the love in a world where an African child has to share one doctor with thousands of his mates, whereas a child in Europe does the same with just a few individuals? Where is the love when about one third of the boys and two thirds of the girls in India will grow up illiterate, whereas in places like Japan, Germany, and Great Britain, practically every child is guaranteed an education? Or can people in Central America with lower per capital income enjoy the same standards of living with their counterparts in France earning higher wages? Where is the love?
If love in its pure, untainted and uncorrupted mien is to rule the affairs of man, then he must realize his original oneness, his total and inflexible brotherhood in the soul of his maker. When man sincerely begins to identify with the starvation, craving, slavery, oppression and misery of his fellow man, whether or not they live in close proximity, he will then demand for justice for his brother man as for himself. The God-nature in us must fight to freely express that divine nature.
“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, as the popular maxim goes. Thus, regardless of the manner hatred is expressed, it begins as a thought which is expressed through words and other means. The declarations of war by politicians are formal expressions of pent-up animosities. The truth is that we are at war in our hearts long before we express it through physical means. Thus, the place to abolish hatred is in our hearts.
So, if we must hate, then let us hate all enemies of universal love with all our might and all our hearts. Let us identify, ferociously attack and annihilate our real foes – greed, selfishness, covetousness, vanity, hatred, prejudice, cruelty, mistrust and other vices – in one fell swoop. These satanic enemies are cleverly hiding inside our hearts, and it is only when they are excavated that we can invent our dream of true love, God helping us.
Let true love lead!