One only has to wake up in the morning to know that there is plenty of hurt in this world. Nations hurt each other—sometimes out of greed, sometimes out of malice, sometimes out of ignorance. And when nations feel that someone has done evil toward them, the almost universal reaction is to respond in kind. There seems to be a political necessity that if you hurt us, we will hurt you.
And this policy is considered a deterrent. The philosophy is that people might think twice before hurting us if they know we will hurt them worse. Don’t tread on us or you will play double for your transgression.
And this policy is often practiced in personal ethics. When someone hurts me, there is an impulse to strike back. I feel a need to defend myself against further hurt or violation so if the other person knows that they will suffer pain if they do it again, it will function as a deterrent.
But, this only perpetuates the cycle of retribution.
I wonder if there is not some other way to live our personal lives. In the Bible it is suggested that we “not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you are called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (I Peter 3:9)
What would happen if we replied to hurt with blessing? What would happen if we spoke kindly instead of insult? What kind of community could we create if we repaid hurt with kindness?
We might find our lives a more blessed experience. It would take courage but it might help others realize that they do not have to strike out at us because we are not going to hurt them. It might be that we and they would inherit the blessing of peace if one of us had the courage to respond to evil with blessing. The world may not understand this or be able to practice it, but maybe our personal lives might experience the blessing of grace if we did. And who knows, it might even work with nations if it were ever tried.