I’ve been a Christian for sixty-six years and can’t remember ever being taught how to love my enemy. I’m just supposed to do it. I’ve never been taught how to not resist evil, either. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m supposed to be smart enough to figure it out or if the religious professionals haven’t figured out if Jesus was kidding when he said, “Love your enemies” and “Do not resist evil but instead, take the insults of people, go the extra mile when a superior wants something done, and if they demand your coat, give them your shirt as well.”
I wonder if this isn’t why Christianity seems to be failing. It’s not promoting following the hard teachings of Jesus. But Jesus didn’t come for Christians alone. His teachings are like those of the Tao de Ching, and Buddha, and Krishna. They are wisdom for the world. If it would only listen and follow.
So what does it mean that we should not resist evil?
I have a crossbow. When I target practice, I shoot the arrows into a five gallon bucket that has surgical cloths all bunched up inside it. It’s actually very soft material. The arrows are stopped without doing damage to the arrows or to the bucket. The same would happen if I used a bale of hay. The soft response quickly slows the hard. Why? Because there’s nothing hard fighting back. Without resistance, there’s nothing to keep pushing against.
The concept of tai chi uses non-resistance as its defense. It gives way to the force itself and comes from a different angle. (I’m not well versed in tai chi but I’m getting started.)
There have been some very positive advances made in the last eight years in our country, changes that couldn’t have taken place fifty years or a century ago. But the pendulum always swings back as a compensating force. We can try to resist that, or we can give way and come from a different angle, focusing on being light and goodness in our own worlds and letting our non-resistance stop the evil that is looking for an equal and opposing force.
Here are seven things you can do to resist evil in the world.
1) Speak out against what hurts people. Wrong is wrong because it hurts people, not because someone wrote it in a book thousands of years ago. If it hurts people or attempts to convince others that nationality, skin color, sexual orientation, religious belief, or other prejudicial opinion permits favoring one group over another, it’s wrong.
2) Non-violence is the right kind of resistance. When people fear raising their voices against evil, and when their pride and nationalism overwhelms their decency, then violence may become necessary. I justify that only because the people of Germany were the ones who did not resist Hitler soon enough. They reaped what they sowed, or didn’t sow.
3) Jesus said if someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn your left cheek to him as well. This does not refer to being aggressively attacked. For someone to slap you on your right cheek, it would be a backhanded slap. No one uses their non-dominant hand to slap with an open hand. This refers to being insulted. People are big with their tongues, and they say things to see how you’ll react. Just ignore their insults. Act like a mature adult, not like a reactive child. Otherwise, your defense gives them a reason to push against you harder. Weakness is seen in reactivity. Strength in restraint.
4) The Tao de Ching teaches that only the soft can overcome the hard. Think about it. Does the Creator of the world resist our evil? The ancients of Israel gave God credit for disasters and bad things happening as a punishment for idolatry, but has that held true for you? When was the last time God inflicted punishment on you for stealing or lying or putting your job ahead of your church or family? God doesn’t resist evil. He lets it happen so you can learn from the consequences of your actions. Many believe that Jesus came to reveal the truth about God to the world. Did Jesus ever inflict pain on people who placed religion or possessions or power ahead of love for God? No. Jesus didn’t even say anything in his own defense when his false accusers couldn’t get their stories straight at his trial. He was following his mission in life. To provide an example of how to achieve unity within oneself and harmony among all people.
5) Identify your mission in life. Sometimes it’s hard to keep from fighting all the evils in the world when they rear their ugly heads. Anger becomes the motivator and anger is a terrible foundation from which to act. You are one person. I’m one person. We can’t do it all. We simply have to identify the role we are to play in the scheme of bringing the world into harmony. We do that best when we immerse ourselves in our own particular reason for being, and along the way, reduce the injustices being heaped on others. You will know your mission when you find yourself doing things because you love to do them rather than for doing them for the money or fame they might bring to you. You’ll be engrossed in your work to the point of not knowing where the time has gone. Yet, recognize that commitments and responsibilities will help to balance out your total person. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. And we take life too seriously. Be able to draw some lines between what you should do and what is merely distracting you from what you have been born to do.
6) Be good to everyone. Give no one any reason to think you are anything more than a good person to be around. Don’t force your beliefs, traditions, culture, or agenda on others. They will think you want something that is important to them, like their beliefs, traditions, culture, or agenda.
7) Remember that prayer and meditation will help you more than anything else to identify your purpose in life as well as to resist and deal with those things that bring unrest and disharmony in life. Practice, practice, practice. Enroll in a course that will teach you some of the basics of meditation and then meditate every day. The pursuit of harmony begins within.