A prayer for our enemies

A prayer for our enemies:

“O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies:
Lead them and us from prejudice to truth;
deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge;
and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

(Book of Common Prayer, pg. 816)

I may only consider myself still Christian in the most nominal of ways, but this prayer from the BCP (Book of Common Prayer) speaks more deeply to me in this time when our nation is processing the death of Osama bin Laden. I find the country’s current mood of celebration and talk of winning to be deeply disturbing. The fact that many who are cheering the loudest are also those who most loudly proclaim this to be a Christian nation is not only dangerous but also displays a widespread lack of understanding of the message of forgiveness that Jesus came to share.

It grieves me to watch our response. And it causes me worry for the future health of our nation. Not only have become like the enemies we so vilify in loudly and publicly celebrating the death of one who opposed us, we are also opening ourselves up for greater hatred and retaliation from those whose leader’s death we cheer.

I cannot change our country’s response, no matter how much it grieves me. I can change myself, though, by working to ensure that I grow in my ability to treat all with loving kindness, to see that there is no “other” and no enemy, to see that we are all one.

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

I highly recommend Susan Piver’s (beautiful) post Osama bin Laden is dead. One Buddhist’s response. as a place to begin considering how we can all step away from this cycle of war and start creating a new reality of peace.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.

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2 thoughts on “A prayer for our enemies

  1. Hi there,

    Just a heads up about the quote: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/05/anatomy-of-a-fake-quotation/238257/

    I feel sorry for the poor person who posted it on fb initially, correctly punctuated, only to have it tweeted everywhere! All but the first sentence is authentically MLK.

    OMG, I LOVE the BCP. ❤ it. I considered going Anglican back in 2001/2, but didn't. I can't quite peg why, because I could have been a priest by now if I had, but I think I had more to learn from bumping up against Catholicism. I'm thinking again now. 🙂

    And a whole-hearted 'yes' to this. I went to church to light a couple of candles at Our Lady yesterday, and on impulse, lit one for Osama. Let it be said here that I have lit many for the victims of his plans over the years. I thought if anyone needs light now, it's him, who has been mired in the darkness of hate for so long.

    What strikes me is that he has become a projection screen for ALL our anger, does that make sense? Everything we've become since 9/11: allowing our civil liberties to be curtailed in the name of fear; shrilly unable to listen to differing viewpoints; suspicious of those not like us; closing our hearts and our borders – all of which has made us deeply unhappy. And we blame him. But we CHOSE to allow that to happen, to become that way…and I think deep down, we're really angry at ourselves.

    And after this rabid celebration will come the emptiness that always comes when we lose an object of such intense emotion and projection, which will only be eased if we own it. I'm reminded of Kenneth Branagh's character in the incredible television production, Conspiracy: at the end, his character is talking about the death of his parents, and he mentioned that he never wept after his mother, whom he had loved dearly, died. But after his father, and object of intense hatred, died, he wept and couldn't stop weeping. And he noted how we so often organise our lives, our emotions, around those we hate, so much more than those we love – and how the loss of that object of hatred leaves a huge void. I suspect that's what will happen here. It's an opportunity, but one I fear will be lost.

    And it looks like I need to take this response and make it a blog entry! Sorry about that! xx

    • Thanks for the link about the quote. I had seen some information saying the version going around wasn’t accurate, but I hadn’t had time to research the correct version – so thanks!

      I think you make a great point about him being a projection screen from our anger. I’d love to see you expand on that in a blog post! 🙂

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