Peace on Earth

and goodwill toward men.
Quite so. Last Saturday, two women were attacked for unspecified reasons in a forested area popular with hikers south of Jerusalem. One, an American, is dead. A British-born girl survived. Two Arab men approached them, asking for water. One noticed that one of the girls was wearing a Star of David and the stabbing began. Mindless and unprovoked violence – so what. Happens a thousand times a day somewhere or another. Alcohol-fuelled? Unlikely. Racist? Almost certainly. The emotional fallout however in the survivor’s life and the trauma experienced will remain.
Normally, this isn’t something I’d want to comment on, but the survivor was a part-timer at Shoresh Tours, associated with Christ Church and CMJ, where I spent some formative and lifechanging time. The breath of undiluted evil which prompted such acts blew fleetingly across my face.
How can one find a place of self-protection, from which forgiveness can flow, I wonder? I was watching a movie the other day which chronicled the stages in the recovery of a victim of unprovoked assault. “Savage” is the story of a young Irish photographer who, on his way home, is brutally attacked, seemingly at random, by two sadistic muggers brandishing a Stanley knife who leave him with numerous mental and physical scars. Finding it difficult to come to terms with what has happened, he becomes increasingly angry and hungry for any kind of revenge. He descends into a nightmare of tit-for-tat thinking, reinforcing the maxim that ‘violence is its own father’.
The conflict between peace, appeasement and vengeance is one with which I contend, emotionally, spiritually and sometimes materially, and I suppose that I am like everyone else, hoping that the lamb will suddenly, inexplicably bare its teeth and the wolf will flee. Forgiveness is costly. It may even be the softer, easier way to descend into the gutter and return evil for evil. 


One thought on “Peace on Earth

  1. Your reference to the breath of evil made me think of Scott Peck's “People of the Lie.” The damage even a small amount of unmitigated evil will inflict is horrendous, and the survivors are scarred for life. The evil that humanity perpetrates can overwhelm even the most hopeful.
    Forgiveness is the most difficult accomplishment of those who have been wronged but without it, we become a shell, consumed by the residue of the evil we survived.
    We live in a paradoxical world.


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