When hateful people produce lasting hatred in us … hate wins. When violent people make us violent … violence wins. When cruel people leave us with nothing but a burning desire for revenge in our minds and hearts … cruelty wins. When evil done to us gives birth to evil done by us … evil wins.
As I drove to work this morning, I listened to reports on NPR of the Israeli pullout from the Gaza strip. I heard interviews with militant Palestinians who credited the pullout to the armed resistance alone, giving no credit to the political process, showing no support for the diplomatic efforts of their own leadership, calling only for more violence to oust Israel from the West Bank as well. It was most disheartening.
It was disheartening to see once more that steps toward peace — baby steps though they may be — do so little (do nothing!) to soften the hardened and entrenched hatred of one people for another, do so little (do nothing?) to change the tide of history and move people toward rapprochement.
Is there a moral imperative for victims? Or does their victimization “excuse” whatever choices they may make? Can we expect the victim of oppression to show grace and mercy and restraint and maybe even love to the oppressor? Or is that a preposterous expectation?
There can be no shalom until victimizer and victim alike are set free from the cycle of oppression. There can be no shalom until the oppressors humble themselves before God and until the oppressed humble themselves before God. There can be no shalom until God does it … and until we are ready to let God do it!