“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles”(Matthew 5:38-41) (NIV).
As humans we tend to be controlled by the environment, rather than controlling the environment. We tend to smile, only to those smiling at us. We also tend to behave crudely, to those who are crude towards us. Revenge is assumed as if logically necessary as a balancing factor. However, looked at, scientifically, revenge does not address problems, but it serves to aggravate them.
The court system appears like not the best, in terms of administering justice in our civilization. The fact that prisons are ever full of convicts, considered to be criminals, indicates the ineffectiveness of the prison system. Criminals may not, necessarily, be as evil as most people commonly assume them to be. Our justice system does not seem to appreciate the possibility of a prisoner being potentially good. It cannot be possible to understand a human species, without first appreciating the origin of humanity.
In any human being, regardless of race, or condition, one sees what was created in God’s image. Yet, as God cannot be physically seen, that which was created in God’s image, cannot be physically seen. Humans are different, in terms of talents and capabilities. But their common denominator is that they were created in God’s image. Humans are commonly adjudged according to illusionary factors imposed by class, racial or tribal backgrounds. But, such factors have got nothing to do with the true origin of humanity.
The problem faced by the human race is the inability to cause goodness in one’s environment. What is common to most men is being the effect, in an environment where the person would be found to be. Through the wrong educational system, a person may be forced to pursue a career for which he would not be inclined. The person may also be influenced by what goes on in an environment. Out of ignorance, others, are even controlled by superstition.
Commonly, people are categorically viewed, either as strangers or relatives. Factionalism, which Paul talked about in Galatians 5:20, directs a man’s decisions, rather than reasoning. This includes consideration of racial identity, class, or even gender. It is strange though that even Christians, behave similarly. The Seventh Day Adventists are different from the Baptists. Just as the Roman Catholics are different from the Methodists. Divisions are rampant, even among the same groupings.
These Christians are as many as there are divergent Christian groupings around the world. Yet the story of the Good Samaritan, reveals that there cannot be a stranger in Christianity. Others would even avoid reading any material that does not come from their denominational leaders, regardless of how edifying the material would be. The parable of the Good Samaritan stands out as descriptive of true Christianity.
“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’ He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live’”(Luke 10:25-28) (NIV).
While summarizing everything about Christianity, this Scripture also highlights everything wrong about Christianity. On behalf of everyone in need of God’s Kingdom, the law expert’s question ought to be viewed as revealing the truth about Christianity. Jesus had to use the parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate His point. No other Sermon can ever be as effective as the Good Samaritan parable.
Close family relationships and personal identities—let alone ethnicities—have no bearing in the application of that parable. Another person needs to be treated, as if he was the closest relative, regardless of background. But, what is it that makes people uncomfortable, among strangers? I suppose this is to do with comfort. Very few people have the freedom to talk to strangers. It is assumed as normal when treating foreigners as if different from one’s own kinsmen.
Such behavior comes from a stimulus-response, not inherent to human beings, created in God’s image. Each person is directed by stimulus-response, in terms of relating with other fellow human beings. This happens to be a natural indicator of failure to change or control other people who may also behave similarly towards others.
As has been witnessed in recent MDCA fiasco, the courts are viewed as partisan. Even without considering the entire truth at hand, MDCA, actually, violated their own constitution. The fact that ZANU PF also violated their own constitution does not hold, on a party considered as an alternative to ZANU PF. What sustains MDCA should be the opposite of what sustains ZANU PF. The clear injustices by ZANU PF can easily lead many people to anger and violence, yet expected not to be like ZANU PF. The behavior of Komichi and Mwonzora, should not surprise many people.
Their stimulus-response is what causes them to succumb to ZANU PF, appearing as dominant, in terms of being in government. The weak ones are like a child raised by an abusive father, becoming abusive as well, when grown-up. It is unfair to harshly punish such people, as needing rehabilitation to come out of abusive environment experiences.
The harsh treatment of such individuals worsens their unacceptable conduct. Reversing their bad conduct requires abundant love. All of us, whether considered good or bad, are influenced by our upbringing experiences. A child growing up under an abusive environment becomes abusive towards others, as well. It would be unfair, therefore, to be loathsome towards such a child. Highlighting how bad the child would be, sustains him in that bad condition.
The only workable solution is to first find whatever would be of dignity, remaining in that person. Such would be possible, as long as the person would still be alive. Highlighting his weak points causes anyone to make very unfair judgments, based on falsehood. The idea is to salvage a person from the evil condition towards goodness. This does not take into account the fact that the person would have been adjudged as rejoicing in other people’s sufferings. On the question of praying for others, Jesus did not advise His followers to pray for friends, but for their enemies:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48) (NIV).
The stimulus-response, for humans has always been revenge—thereby adding what would be bad on top of another bad condition. Ordinary people love the eye for an eye principle, although so unworkable, even when using common sense. Plucking another person’s eye is wrong. But how can that wrongness be corrected by practicing similar wrongness? In the above Scripture, Jesus summed up what should be considered as common sense, rather than religious.
There is too much violence in our society, yet the country is not at war. The bad marital relationships also had a bearing on the shameful behavior of the perpetrators of violence against the three female political activists. As far as those sadistic torturers are concerned, they were meting justice, against their party’s opponents. What they did is not different from what is documented of the Gukurahundi perpetrators.
It is undeniable that our country is full of people who assume that violence changes things for the better. But violence reveals the state of mental illnesses, in our society. Those people are in need of healing than anything else. Of course, the biggest question is, how to stop such barbarism? Especially, as said to be authorized by the rulers? The principle of Jesus, applies, regardless of such evil. This is the time for Christians to rise up and take up their role as peace-makers.
The role of peace-makers may, probably, be most difficult, under the circumstances. Peace-making is for Christians, more than it is for Human Rights activists, often treated as though they are also politicians. A sadistic authoritarian government cannot see the difference. Those used to torture opponents, represent the rulers who have become so fearful, even of their own shadows.
Their behavior is similar to what can be done to a rescuer trying to help a person in danger of sinking. The sinking person seeks to drown the person providing rescue services. That portrays the work of stimulus-response. No one can reason with a person in danger of losing his life. Harming those seeking to rescue him, is his last resort.
The callousness is caused by having committed innumerable overt acts against others. The person would be unsure of what could happen, when a new government comes. The safest thing for such people is assumed as dying in power, rather than being removed and possibly being tried for such evil deeds. This is weird reasoning, of course, but revealing what a stimulus-response does to a physical human being.
While the eye for an eye principle appears as providing solutions, it actually provides the opposite, in the long run. Such solutions appear as temporarily workable. But the dastard acts of violence do come back on a round-robin basis. If Zimbabweans hated the white settlers, as to consider taking away their farms, being some form of revenge, they were mistaken. Most assuredly, there is every chance for a country behaving that way to be recolonized.
That recolonization may not even be violently adopted, necessarily. But the citizens would have become so weakened, as unable to confront anything, due to their own abusive government. Recolonization becomes necessary, compared to the suffering they would have gone through. A culture of violence cannot end, except when confronted by a culture of love and tolerance, when abundantly introduced. A completely new approach is to deal with the current violence.
All hate speeches and bad communication in social media have to be completely eliminated. The existing polarization, for over twenty years, needs to stop, forthwith. That is if anyone could hope to eliminate the spate of evil, as existing in our society. The terrorist activities can only be eliminated by avoiding retaliatory activities, through hate speeches.
Of course, it can never be an easy thing to love people who find comfort in treating others with terror. Yet practicing love is as easy as appreciating that the offender needs help, as not operating from his/her normal senses. Only love can salvage such people, not operating from their normal senses.
The best advice is to concentrate on whatever would still remain as good in them. Nothing of value may appear as salvageable in such people. But as long as still alive, it is possible to bring the evil person back to normalcy, with love. A good person remains good and loving, even after extreme provocations. Everything bad in the environment can be real, just as everything good in the environment can be real. The apostle Paul advised of the greatest behavior of all time:
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things”(Philippians 4:7-8) (NIV).
Here the apostle Paul is giving us the easiest way of handling problems of life. When highlighting positive things about offenders, their evil tendencies would disappear magically. Imagine, if Mwonzora and Komichi were first acknowledged after their misbehavior? All that was necessary was to communicate with them, before going to the media. There was nothing wrong with acknowledging them for their passion for constitutionalism, for instance. They needed engagement, meeting of which would have accordingly adopted or meritoriously rejected the Supreme Court judgment.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99