Can anybody find me somebody to love?

October 11, 2010

Originally posted at Unorthodoxology, part of the CCblogs network.

I have no enemies.

How am I to love them?

No enemy curses me. No enemy raises fists at me. No enemy persecutes me. No enemy hates me. I doubt anyone in the enemies of my state - Taliban or Al-Qaeda - care much about a stay-at-home dad living in a suburb of nothing in Texas. Frankly, I'm not important enough to have enemies in this world, and I'm not doing anything important enough that might make me any, either.

I want so desperately to love my enemy, but I'll be damned if I can find any. To love my enemies would require an exercise in delusional imagination, the conjuring of ghosts to hate so that I might be able to love them. To love an enemy I would have to envision conflict, create it and exacerbate it to transform those with whom I disagree into enemies.We do this more than we should, inventing scenarios in which we play the maligned, the victim, the oppressed, all while we run to the medicine cabinet for an ibuprofen every time a muscle aches, the faucet to quench the slightest thirst, the grocery store for an ice cream craving.

To love an enemy would be daring, costly, painful. American lives are not generally built on these characteristics, so all the martyrdom and suffering Jesus tells his followers to expect at the hands of the powerful have been bent in our world into pithy sentiments about playing nice within pluralism. But Jesus rarely played nice with the true enemies of humanity, those wild beasts that would stampede the poor like weeds under foot and those that would drive love from religion as if it were a demon hoard. To Jesus, loving an enemy did not include ignoring injustice.

But where does one find an enemy of humanity to love? Where does one find someone who eats at perpetual banquet tables while the rest of the world starves for a handful of rice? Where does one find someone who sleeps softly while the world burns? Where does one find someone who steals birthrights from the poor and gives them pottage in return?

If I can find no enemies to love, perhaps I am the enemy, and that my life - just in every day chores and errands - consumes more of the Earth than one person should be able to lay claim.

And that even if I were to do all I could to live justly on this Earth, the privileged nature of my birth - the system I am inextricably caught in - requires me to be an enemy of humanity. And then it is I who must endure the love of an enemy, the good done to the life that curses, the shame of having heaps of coal burn blisters on my head.

But if I am the enemy, all is not lost, but found, because in this, I fall upon the knowledge - the grace - that I am loved as an enemy. And that kind of love can be transformative, enough even to make enemies.

This is part of a synchronized blog organized by Tia at Abandon Image. More information on the blogs and on the Bless Those That Curse You Day can be found on the facebook page here.


Enemies to love

How about loving someone who beats her kids. The bullies in the local school. the people who dump the trash in your street. The politicians in the otgher party. Glenn Beck. the drunk who spoils the family get-together. Sometimes these can be the people who are hard to love. How about someone who hurts someone you love? The sibling who impoverishes your parents. The person who creates work, but never helps. The angry bloggers. Maybe if we don't have enemies, we should. And then work at loving them.


Difficult to love...

Yes, I'd say all those folks are very difficult to love and that we should find ways to love them. I'm just not sure I'd consider them (or at least most of them) an enemy. Especially not Beck. It's hard to think of a clown as an enemy. :)


a remixed enemy

It seems Christ chose to remix the teachings of "love your neighbor" with "love your enemy" because he recognized the deep brokenness in the world and how it affected human relationships. This brokenness still remains even amid the affirmation of the gospel. But this does not mean we are paralyzed by fear, only that human relationships, beautiful and life-affirming as they are, must always be aware of the present, lingering realities of sin.

I agree, the enemy seems to be more of a systemic, corporate beast, rather than lone separate individuals. Enemies are the spiritual nets which entangle people, and when stuck in such places we are prone to point fingers and scapegoat the other. Right now, the nets of, say, the penitentiary system are weighing us down as a people, where we send misguided people in to the prison only to have the prison send them back out as hardened criminals. Most of these prisoners aren't your stock pedophile or cold-blooded murder as the media would have it, but petty thieves and multiple offenders. We ought to invest in restorative justice praxis, for there is nothing more redemptive than facing your enemy and your enemy facing you, working it out.