I used to think, actually really believe, that people were inherently kind hearted and good and sweet. I actually, really believed this. I never thought people would be intentionally mean or cruel to others. And that if they were, it was because they didn't realize they were being mean. I was a Pollyanna at heart and genuinely loved people with all my heart no matter what. I thought only the best of them. Naïve and hopeful in the good of humanity.
And then I met a monumental knave who hated me simply because he saw me read my Bible. He lived in a world that I did not support, but I still, as always, tried everything within my power to show genuine love to him. This wasn't my first rodeo with someone whom I happen to not agree in life with. It just didn't seem that big a deal to me. We're all different, right? As much as I tried to love him, care for him, and ask about his life to show my interest in him as a person, it made no difference. He made it his mission to make my life a living hell. And he practically accomplished his goal. I had never experienced anyone like this before...or atleast someone who wasn't eventually won with lovingkindness and sincerity. I had so often been able to make an enemy a friend. He caused such drama: the withholding of paychecks owed to me, he lied to my employer after using me to advocate for his concerns, he created dissension among those who worked alongside me, he caused me being fired from a job that I worked very hard at and gave my all to. As much as I fought his efforts, month after month, to break down my positive attitude, eventually he even succeeded at influencing me toward cynicism and negativity.
People (even unbelievers) suggested that his treatment of me was for one simple reason: because I am a Christian. I never believed this to be true because it seemed so lame to hate someone for what they believe.
But now, after watching Christian after Christian dragged into court for standing by their ideals, I realize that they were right. And Jesus was right. “They will hate you on account of Me.”
For many years I wondered what positive or useful purpose this experience could possibly have in my life. And finally, in the last year, as I have battled, on the front lines at times, for public policy and against the evil that is advocated in this country, I realized that what that horrid experience taught me was a unique insight into the cruelty and great lengths people will go to just because your ideals are different from theirs...and just because you are different from them. And because "men love darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil." And, boy, will they bite and kick and seethe and be unconscionably nasty so they can not only have their way but force you to submit to their demands, as well. It's not enough for us all to do as we please (save the harming of person and property), we must knock down and destroy not just those in opposition to us, but even those who are silent or neutral.
The battle is real folks. And whatever the motivation is for these people, whether spiritual or whatever, we can not pussyfoot around reality and we can not candy coat people's real intentions and we can not excuse evil, cruelty, or ugliness for anything other than what it is. Or it will overtake us. And it is overtaking us because we fail to do anything about it. “To not speak is to speak. To not act is to act.” As my son says, we can sit on the fence with God on one side and the devil in the other, but the devil owns the fence. Not to choose IS to choose.
Wake up. The battle is raging and most of us are sleeping right through it. When we awake, we'll wonder how this all happened. The responsibility will rest in our hands.
quotes by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jesus