Through Love Alone

By Glenda | February 25, 2015



Recently I discovered that my 9th great grandmother was tortured as a witch in Europe during the Inquisition. This led me to reflect yet again on how violence is engendered by religious extremism of every type in every age.

The news today is full of stories of ISIS and “radical Islam,” and, on other days, of “hate crimes” against minorities in this country. Racial and religious tension is at a peak, it seems. And, as a result, I fear that many of us in our distress may be in danger of over-simplifying, over-identifying, or in other ways over-indulging in the very energies that we would denounce.

Or, we may, in our own emotional self-defense, simply hide ourselves away in exhaustion, turning off the news, tuning out the terrorism and the suffering.

So I feel obligated as a spokesperson for peace and reconciliation to remind us all, yet again, that no religious tradition is free from the taint of extremism, and none of the world’s religious source documents are without inducements to violence.

The latest article in the Atlantic magazine speaks in depth of the way ISIS is the rediscovery of medieval tenants, not modern Islam, and that, in fact, most of ISIS’s violence is perpetrated against other Muslims who are considered apostates because they do not follow the letter of the law written about 1500 years ago.

I am mindful, too, that, in our own midst, there are individuals and groups equally fervent and sometimes even equally violent, who use Biblical pronouncements of vengeance and punishment laid down some 2800 years ago to justify their own ideas.

In this stewpot of heated emotions and rhetoric, perhaps it would be hard to find anyone or any spiritual tradition innocent enough to “cast the first stone.” And so I urge us to the more difficult and more courageous task of being open to understanding in depth those who are different from us in any way, that we may find new ways of living in peace together.

And, while it is good to be clear-eyed and far-seeing and to protect ourselves from real harm, may we restrain our own violent responses to violence, let us re-examine our own blind spots and our own prejudices, and let us evolve new ways of dealing with conflict resolution and reconciliation.

Let us move forward each day toward a more perfect understanding of what Love is, of what being in one world together, at peace, might be.

I challenge each of us to pray daily, twice daily, morning and night, for forgiveness and tolerance, for understanding and renewal, in the world and in ourselves. Let us open our hearts to newness of life, even as we remain alert to actual danger from the ignorance and ill-advised behaviors of others, whoever they may be.

My heart is torn for my long ago grandmother, who finally, in prison, after being tortured and her tongue ripped out, took her own life. My heart is torn for countless sufferers in the Middle East, of all stripes. My heart is torn for those in my own country who are blinded by a thirst for revenge, who think “an eye for an eye” will yet bring peace.

Hate is never overcome by hate. Let us find yet ways to attune ourselves to the miracle of healing Love.

And here are a few quotations from the source books to counter those other horrific ones:

“Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo!, he between whom and you there was enmity shall become as though he were a bosom friend.” Islam. Qur’an 41.34

“Aid an enemy before you aid a friend, to subdue hatred.” Judaism. Tosefta, Baba Metzia 2.26

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Christianity. Romans 12.21

“Man should subvert anger by forgiveness, subdue pride by modesty, overcome hypocrisy with simplicity, and greed by contentment.” Jainism. Samanasuttam 136

“A superior being does not render evil for evil; this is a maxim one should observe, the ornament of virtuous persons in their conduct…A noble soul will ever exercise compassion even toward those who enjoy injuring others or those of cruel deeds when they are actually committing them–for who is without fault?” Hinduism. Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda 115

“Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world; through love alone they cease. This is an eternal law.” Buddhism. Dhammapada 5

2 comments | Add One

  1. Carol Henderson - 02/25/2015 at 3:47 pm

    Oh my .. Powerful stuff, my dear. Very Powerful. I will have more to say after taking a while to digest this information, but just wanted to thank you for sharing your discovery. Wow ..

  2. Glenda Taylor - 02/26/2015 at 7:58 am

    So, it appears I need to be more specific…I do mean to say in this post that we need to be clear-eyed and vigilant in protecting ourselves and our values from any enemy–whether it is ISIS (which is indeed a huge threat), or homophobia, or those who refuse to acknowledge women’s rights, or racists, or the interior aspect of ourselves that react to any perceived threat by means that do not help the situation.
    I do know that every side of every issue has important values to defend, and I do not consider them all equal.
    Surprisingly enough, I am not a “bleeding-heart liberal pacifist,” I am rather a grandmother who would defend us all from ill-will wherever it comes from.
    I am, in fact, working on a documentary video about the Greek goddess Athena, the protectress of civilization and the goddess of prudent and defensive warfare.
    I am so immersed in seeing “all sides” that I felt a need to speak for the power of Love (the Great Love Itself), which is the only thing I can imagine that can move the world to peace. I happen to believe in the power of prayer, and of Love, but I don’t define it or limit it to a meek and mild state. So, at risk of being misunderstood myself, I wrote this post, knowing I was not spelling out everything I wanted to say, but hopefully it will stir a conversation. Blessings to all. Glenda

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