Shots rang out. Blood was everywhere. Bodies hit the floor. Children screamed. The images and descriptions of the scene at a school in Pakistan are more than horrific. Over 130 children are dead over an extremist religious ideology. From terrorist attack to terrorist attack, the Taliban have proven that there is no end to the barbarism of their actions. How do we make sense of such a tragedy? Our first inclination is to label those who would commit such atrocities, monsters. The problem with such dehumanizing characterization is that it fails to understand that the monster in the other is the monster in us.
How many children has our greed killed? How many children grow up without proper education? How many children are subjected to the slow deaths of racism, homophobia and sexism? How many children are dead because of our thirst for guns and violence? The questions can go on and on.
The teachings of Jesus are incredibly important to help us formulate our responses to humans that commit horrific tragedies. In the life and mind of Jesus, there was an understanding that loving your enemies is the only way to save them. Without a love for our enemies, we are relegated to an existence of hate that ultimately destroys our lives too. Do we want to be like the Taliban? The unchecked hate of the Taliban drove them to commit this great atrocity. What do you think that unchecked hate for the Taliban will do in your life? We are all capable of tremendous evil. When we allow hate to go unchecked in our own hearts, we allow the evil deeds that we perpetuate to be masked. That which we hate the most is often what we are. Our world is in desperate need of change. We cannot expect any difference if we continue to exchange hate for hate. Love is the only way to something better.
Through our desire to learn to not function as they function, the Taliban can teach us how to be more human. We can learn to love and not hate. We can learn to look for the evil in our own souls. We can learn that part of being human is holding back the monster within. We can learn to push past barriers that we think are insurmountable. We can learn.
For many years, the term Cuban functioned as the word Taliban functions now in the United States. Both words described great enemies. Today, the word Cuban describes a people that people in the United States desperately want to embrace. The love that Cubans in exile and many others have for the people on the island turned enemies into friends. I think we would be wise to follow such a path with even the worst of our geopolitical enemies. Let us never forget that our worst enemies are always going to be a reflection of what is within.