Written January 10, 2016
“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
For those who do not know me, I don’t usually write about religion, however to put Gandhi’s quote in perspective I felt I had to write about the historical context of it. Mind you, I hold no religion higher than another.
I’m sure most of you remember hearing in church or Sunday school that in the Old Testament of the Bible it says, “If there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise” (Exodus 21:23–25). Besides Exodus this is also mentioned in Leviticus 24:20 and Deuteronomy 19:21. What this basically meant was that the punishment must fit the crime and there should be a just penalty for evil actions. Justice should be equitable. Excessive harshness and excessive leniency should be avoided. This also was interpreted by the common man who practiced this in his personal life.
We still see this kind of thinking today. If someone hurts us we hurt them back. Today it seems to be taken to the extreme. People keep getting revenge on each other til everyone’s gets got. When does the cycle of violence stop? We see it everywhere around us. “This person hurt me in my relationship so I’m going to do this” or “So-and-so did that to my family so I’m going to do that”. Much of this type of revenge used to happen in our inner cities but it’s spilling out and into other places around us.
Later on in the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus revealed God’s heart concerning interpersonal relationships and is quoted saying, “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”(Matthew 5:39–42). This is where Gandhi’s quote comes in.
People hurt each other all the time whether it’s intentional or accidental. If we lived by the Old Testament ways, everyone of us would be maimed in some way. Thieves would not have hands, people who looked with lust at another person while in a relationship or married would all be blind, and the people who broke another person’s heart would be dead(I’m sure you know that’d be because we can’t live without our hearts).
Are we angry because we are hurt by someone else? Of course we are! If we weren’t we wouldn’t be human! I know I’ve been hurt plenty by other people and I have also been the one who’s done the hurting too. Each of us have been both the giver and the recipient of pain on some level. Now does this mean we should resist all evil and then turn around to love and forgive everyone for what they do? Not necessarily. What we need to do is step back a moment, evaluate what’s going on and think if the punishment fits the crime.
I’ve personally had men break my heart with their words or looked at other women. Should they have their tongues cut out or their eyes removed? Some days i’ve felt like that but in all seriousness, no. I may say something not so nice but for the most part I’ve chosen to forgive them for myself, my sanity and my heart. I also forgive in my heart so that I’m not a bitter old woman. What about someone who stole from me or lied to or about me? The lie I’d have to work on forgiving because trust was broken. If someone spreads lies about me, I let my character speak for itself. The stealing, well that depends. If it was my favorite pen I’d forgive. My computer or tv would warrant a call to the police.
Does this mean we should forgive everyone and let other people walk all over us? Definitely not. Punishment does need to occur especially when it come to murder, rape, and other heinous crimes like that. But for every day occurrences like lying and heartbreaking it helps to look into the soul of a person and understand them and their motivation behind it. Ask yourself, “Is this person really mean at heart or do they not know how to communicate or were they hurt by somebody? Will what this person did to me matter a week, a month, a year, or longer from now?”
Thought for the day: While an eye for an eye makes everyone blind, we shouldn’t be doormat for others to walk all over us. Let’s try to work on the