Hatred - Again

Manchester. Yet another terrorist 'incident'. Tragic, on all counts. I cannot begin to understand the mentality of someone who could even contemplate such an act. It is far too 'alien' a concept for me to begin to grasp it, let alone understand why someone would think that killing 22 people and maiming 59 others, to say nothing of the countless invisible mental 'injuries' it will have caused, was a good idea.

To me, all life is precious. In Genesis it says:

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

What that means is that each of us, somewhere, somehow, bears a 'family resemblance' to God... The God who is love itself. Those words tell me that each person is, in some sense, almost a 'theophany' or appearance of God... We can, if we look closely enough, see the 'imprint' of the divine in each being. Sometimes, it is very well hidden; sometimes it is obvious - the latter are often thought of as 'saints'. But what it means to me, is that each life is precious, because of that image which is part of each and every person's being. Whether I like it or not, my enemies are also 'made in the image of God'.

It can be very hard to love our enemies. But that is what Jesus tells us we ought to do:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 43-45

The message of the terrorist seems to be one of hatred, pure and simple. The aim appears to be to sow mistrust and fear, and to use that to grow hatred and thereby divide neighbours against one another - though to what end I cannot tell - that is beyond my capacity to understand. We must not allow ourselves to fall into that trap. Alas, it seems that some already are - Katie Hopkins has posted a tweet (since withdrawn) calling for ‘a final solution’. Chilling.

Jesus also said:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12: 30-31

Instead of allowing ourselves to be duped into hating one another by the terrorists' message, we should use it to forge links between us. Let the fires of adversity inspire us to be united; united in love and respect for one another. I don't care whether you believe in God - any God - or not. To me you are precious, whoever you are and whatever you believe or don't believe.

Martin Luther King said:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Let us not respond to hatred with hatred, to violence with more violence, but let us respond with love. That way we defeat terrorism. If terrorism doesn't achieve its apparent aim - that of dividing us - we have won.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2022