When someone upsets you there are at least two options for a response. You can strike back by giving the attacker a “piece of your mind,” or you can let the blow stop with you. Hurtful remarks returned with equal vehemence perpetuate the problem and can lead to mangled relationships. The alternative is let the anger stop with you, returning evil with good. (Luke 6:27-38)
In personal relationships we know that Jesus’ admonition to love our enemies and to forgive those who hurt us is a way to bring healing. Goodness ultimately has greater appeal than violence. But ever since 1945 when the United States dropped the big bombs over Japan we know that we or any other nuclear power has the potential to destroy all living creatures. Being fearful that someone will drop their bombs on us we proceed to develop greater military superiority to discourage such an attack or at least to be equipped to administer devastating retaliation.
In 1958 the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Dominique Georges Pire, said: “If an atomic bomb falls on the world tomorrow, it is because I argued with my neighbor today.” Edward Hays remarks, “That insightful comment reveals how the chain of events you initiate can have a profound impact on the world. But the chain can work for good as well. Instead of giving someone “a piece of your mind,” you can give them “the peace of your mind.”
The song, “Let there be peace on earth,” is a good reminder that peace on earth should begin with each one of us. The dance of evil doesn’t have to be repeated with vengeance against the attacker. That response can set off a chain reaction of destruction leading to annihilation. Some countries, for example, stay in conflict with one another generation after generation. Children are taught to hate the enemy. On occasion they don’t even know the reason why. And thus, they risk becoming friends. This is the sensitive message of the movie, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” where a Germany Arian boy befriends a Jewish child. They find no reason to hate each other but share the same fate.
Mending relationships with peace instead of a “piece of one’s mind” is the loving and healing approach. It is also the safest.