You Don't Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right

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Victims and Victimizers/Vengeance, Forgiveness, Justice, and Mercy

I had already chosen to focus on chapters one through four of You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right in this post, however the material in chapter three, “The Shadow Side of Faith: Learning That We Can Be Both Victims and Victimizers," and chapter four, “Vengeance, Forgiveness, Justice, and Mercy: Recognizing the Sacredness of All Our Feelings," now feel particularly apt given recent events in Gaza and Congo as well as closer to home.

“Turning personal or national suffering into a source for healing is never easy, but unless that remains our top priority, we’ll be left with a world in which everybody has a finely honed sense of how his particular past allows him to undermine someone else’s future.? (p. 66)

“[The] marriage of justice and revenge is always a death spiral. We know that all it does is give us just enough moral high ground to do to other people precisely what we wouldn’t want done to us.? (p.93)

With these quotes in mind, and, if you have read them, the first four chapters, consider the following questions:

1. What personal issue are you grappling with where you would benefit from letting go of old hurts? Where do you see your nation suffering from an inability to move beyond past wrongs?

2. When have you allowed your desire for justice to cloud your judgment? When have you found room to exercise mercy and forgiveness rather than seek vengeance?

3. Where have you created difference, separation or rejection by labeling others? By labeling yourself? How can acknowledging and accepting difference help you to fashion a more integrated and balanced life?

Note that these need not be life or death concerns, they could be (as on p. 94) sharing your distress and exploring possible motives after hearing a friend’s negative comments, rather than holding a grudge, looking for an opportunity to respond in kind, or pigeonholing him or her as rude and unpleasant.

I’d like to close with one more quote and a thought on resolutions for the new year:

“[T]raditions exist not to serve the faithful, but to help the faithful serve the world. The traditions are there for anyone to use to craft his or her own life.? (p. 51)

As we move into 2009, seek to rediscover your own traditions and make connections with other traditions in order to better “serve the world.?

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