To bless or to curse? – that is our choice
In the light of recent terrorist atrocities, regular columnist Philip Young believes that all human beings have a choice – whether to use our lives to bless or to curse others.
All our actions have consequences. If you choose to make your actions a curse then you can be sure that the curse will have dramatic repercussions on the world around you.
As we reflect on the horrific event in Nice where Mohamed Lahouaief-Bouhlel used a lorry as a weapon to target so many innocent people, then we can see how much devastation just one person can cause. His actions have brought a curse on many families and changed their lives forever. We offer them our love and compassion and find it difficult to imagine just how much they are suffering. Bereavement for some and coming to terms with ghastly injuries for others. The consequences are many and long term. It has left France in mourning and reeling from a third terrorist attack, and the rest of the whole world feeling a lot less safe.
Add to this event some of the other terrible events of the last few weeks and we are all left feeling shocked and wary as to who or what might be next. Bombings in Baghdad, war in Syria, racial tension in the USA and incidents in our own country, the murder of Jo Cox MP, and the unrest in Turkey - the list could go on.
All these events are bringing a curse on people. They are all instances of people using their free will to curse others. How do we respond? Well we have the wonderful example of Brendan Cox after the murder of his wife. He said, ‘I and Jo’s friends are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo’. He has chosen to bless rather than curse.
Jesus too wants us to choose the way of blessing. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ he says in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5.9). In the same sermon he also says, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’. (Matthew 5.44)
I believe this teaching of Jesus to be central to all that he was about, but I also believe that more of us need to urgently ask ourselves, ‘Are we following Jesus in this his central teaching?’ It is so much easier to curse those who are a curse to us, but this never will change anything. The vicious circle of cursing one another will just spiral out of control. Look at the world around you and you will see that violence is giving birth to more violence and we are in danger of losing control.
As a matter of urgency we have to find a better way than fighting violence with yet more violence, otherwise it will just keep on getting worse. You only have to look at the consequences of going to war in Iraq to see that by entering into an unnecessary war we have created a much more unstable Iraq where violence has become the norm. It is time to seek a better way.
Jesus has provided a way out of hell on earth, which is to love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you. Never underestimate the power of love and blessing. It is more powerful than bombs and violence, which are impotent when it comes to changing anything into a better situation.
Let’s just think this through a little bit, as at first it sounds too simple to be true! Imagine you are in Iraq or Syria and a bomb has just blown up your wife and children. This is a curse and there can be no other word for it. It has ruined your life. The buildings around you are in ruins and the people you love and care for are dead. You feel angry and are left with thoughts of revenge churning around in your heart. How is this going to help things change for the better?
Imagine a different world. You have no electricity or running water in your house and along comes someone to help you and your community to connect up. It could be a government official or it could be a foreign government or agency like Water Aid. Your life is radically changed for the better. You feel blessed and you feel like dancing and singing. You want others to have the same as you and so you offer to work for the water company.
We must not delude ourselves. We can make a choice to follow the way of love or the way of hate. Dropping bombs and defending ourselves with nuclear weapons is a choice we make as a country and as a world. Don’t blame the politicians or leave it to them to make these decisions on your behalf. Challenge the politicians to act out of love and not out of fear and hate.
You can choose to bless and not to curse in all the decisions of your life. To choose a way that is a positive reinforcing circle of love and creativity. The exact opposite of a vicious circle of fear, hate and violence. If you choose this way do not underestimate the power you are plugging into.
By choosing the way of blessing and love you are connecting with God who is the source of all blessing and love. God is Almighty and All Powerful and so you are choosing to align yourself with the most powerful, beautiful, kind and loving force in the universe!!
Choose to bless and watch the world change around you!
The image above is courtesy of https://pixabay.com
Philip is an Anglican, Quaker, and a member of the Third Order of Franciscans. He moved to Felixstowe last year. Until July 2014 he was the Diocesan Environmental Officer for the Norwich Diocese. He is now a freelance writer on spiritual and political matters. He is available to run Quiet Days, give talks, presentations or to preach and can be contacted at email@example.com
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