In light of this events of this past week, I have been hearing the phrase “innocent victims” over and over again and these words have summoned up the memory of a song that now haunts my thoughts with the question: “Are My Hands Clean?”
Various news reports delivered over various mediums have declared particular victims of recent violent atrocities to be innocent. It is true that none of the Parisian victims of the violent jehadists deserved to be targeted, held hostage, or killed! But, I wonder about our desire to label certain victims as “innocent” whenever violence shakes our world.
Yes the perpetrators of the violence are guilty! But who among us is completely innocent? There are some who have worked diligently to love their neighbours as they love themselves. There may even be some among the Parisian victims who loved their enemies. But who among us can claim that we have not failed miserably to love our enemies?
Nothing can justify the acts of violence perpetrated by those who seek to inflict terror. Yet, we appear to feel justified as we continue to enjoy the benefits of a society whose systemic injustice engenders the very frustrations which breed the hostilities which leave so many of the victims of our privilege believing that violence is the only answer.
Can we, who have and continue to benefit from the world’s power imbalances, open ourselves to the possibility that we are part of the problem? Can our efforts to end the violence begin with confession as we endeavour to love our enemies. I’m not suggesting that our love be anything other than the fierce love which has the power to change the world. Fierce love is costly and difficult, requiring the kind of wisdom that creates justice. Justice will no doubt have an impact upon our lifestyles and our power. Do we have the courage to see that our hands a far from clean and begin to offer tangible proof of our desire to love our neighbours and our enemies?
As one who endeavours to follow the teachings of Jesus, I find myself praying that this cup be taken from me. The task is too daunting. The way is to difficult. And yet… the alternative is to become my enemy and take up violence to preserve my lifestyle, my privilege, my power, my world. May the ONE who is LOVE, live and breath in me so that I might have the courage to love.