Sunday, July 30, 2006

I Don't Want To Love Him

I do not want to love George Bush. I cannot imagine what it would mean. I am a Christian, and I see Bush and most of what he and his regime stands for as evil and destructive. What on earth does it mean that we are commanded to love our enemies? Bush is my enemy. I do not love him. I fear him, have contempt for him. But I do not love him. I implore you, those who are from faith traditions that call upon you to love those who revile you -- how do you do it? What does it look like in action?

I understand that part of loving someone is correcting them when they walk wrongly. That I can do. But love? I do not say things to correct Bush because I love him. And I have the nagging feeling that within me is a spiritual abyss a mile wide all around that issue.

I cling to a sense of moral superiority as the Pharisee echoes in my ear ..."God, I thank thee that I am not as others are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this Publican."

If I am straying from my spiritual road, could it be that I am less able, consequently, to effect any real change in the world? Is my intensely felt sense of self righteous indignation part of the problem?

What would the alternate look like? What would it do?

6 Comments:

Blogger The Harbour of Ourselves said...

Hey Mata i know what you mean. it's early in the morning here so this may come out not so coherently, but am remembering something MLK Jnr said about loving enemies

I think he said Jesus said I must love the man who hates me and wants me dead because i am black, that doesn't mean i have to like him. Love he said was something very different...

it always stuck with me for some reason

1:32 AM  
Blogger Mata H said...

Yeah..spot on..but what does that difference do? What does it act like? What is the "how" of it?

8:01 AM  
Blogger Shupac said...

Very tough question. I have a few ways of dealing with this which are probably inadequate and timid and may not be of much use to you but here they are, along with a few scattered reflections.

I guess I don't think of Bush as my enemy. I think his actions are wrongheaded and criminally destructive and likely to hurt our country as well as the ones that are actually military targets. I dislike him, but I don't think someone can be my enemy unless I deal with him/her face to face. Maybe I'm naive, but that's my stance.

I do get angry at him nonetheless. I just don't think the anger is particularly worth the effort it consumes--and I've noticed that the day after I do feel intense and protracted anger, I usually feel drained, sore, and shaky. It's almost like a hangover. I don't feel like punishing myself for someone else's sins, so I will recognize my anger, think of what I can to to productively express it, and go on.

I also think that fixating on Bush alone clouds understanding of the real problems. If Bush renounced war, national arrogance, and robber baron economics tomorrow, someone else would come along to represent the same agendas and the same interests. It's not necessarily very comforting to think about this, but it does lead me to think rather than to indulge in righteous outrage. And systemic problems may be more discouraging than those caused by individuals, but they also offer more opportunities for invovlement. Acting to create affordable housing, for instance, won't stop any wars, but will counteract some of the harms caused by those who share Bush's mentality.

I guess over the years I've developed an instinctive revulsion to righteous anger. It just doesn't seem like a useful emotion. It also seems to be one of Bush's major failings. I think it is the driving force of his 'war on terror," but I believe it is a tragically inadequate one.

More generally, when I think of someone else's sins, I try to remember my own. Granted, mine don't generally result in thousands of deaths (except insofar as my demand for gasoline helps enable the American drive for hegemony over many regions of the world), but they are the ones I need to overcome if I will be effective in resisting the evils of the world.

But all this is anger management. Your main question, how to love him, is much more difficult. About the best I can do is avoid hating him, which begins with not giving in to the feelings of indignant anger that arise. I try remember that before he's an arrogant, blind, plutocratic warmongering SOB (see how well I manage that anger!), he is a child of God, that somewhere beneath the problems there is a soul in need of and capable of redemption and regeneration. I also find myself thinking that regeneration is not bloody likely, but ultimately that's not in my hands. Maybe it's not much, but like I said, it's enough to keep from hating him, and thus undermine my own ability to be an agent of peace, such as it is.

I don't know if this is a helpful response or a bunch of pious fluff. It's just how I'm getting by.

Peace.

10:35 AM  
Blogger The Harbour of Ourselves said...

in truth, i really don't bloody know - i have this nagging suspicion that love and forgiveness are two sides of the same coin though

Mark Twain once said that 'forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.' A response to the act of forgiveness that is wonderfully philosophical, but not simply understood let alone easily put in practice - much like your loving mr bush

I think what Mr. Twain was trying to explain, albeit very poetically, is that the genuine act of absolution/love has to be entirely selfless for it to have genuineness. The authenticity of forgiveness therefore must include acceptance of what is really there as contrasted with what we simply imagine or wish there to be from within the complexity of the difficult situations we find ourselves struggling through.

that is now as clear as mud to me...but its a struggle that continues to draw me

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Pat Z. said...

Mata, I think as Christians we are called to love one another but it's different with each situation. You love by not hating. You love by wishing the other person well, even if they hate you. You love by offering them up to God, and praying for them. It's between you and God. It's not really about them, they are the boulder in the road between you and God, so do as He says and love them, that gets them out of your way. It also gives you peace of mind.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Mata H said...

Thank you all for your comments --

Shu I think you have given me much to chew on - esp about trying to remove that which keeps me from being an agent of peace.

Harbour, I think you are on the money about forgiveness being a big part of it -- and after my Lenten concentration on forgiveness this year, I am beginning to think that is the biigest part of living a faithful life -- it is an ever-unfolding origami crane.

Pat Thank you for reminding me to offer him up in prayer. When in doubt, turn him over to God.

11:36 PM  

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