I've fallen in love with Fiona Apple's latest album. (Be warned it's not for kids. The language can be rough in spots.) Nevertheless, there is one song in particular that I have found myself listening to a lot this week, "Relay." Some of the lyrics read as follows:
Evil is a relay sport
When the one who's burnt
Turns to pass the torch...
I resent you for being raised right
I resent you for being tall
I resent you for never getting in any opposition at all
I resent you for having each other
I resent you for being so short
I resent you presenting your life
Like a propaganda brochure
And I see that you keep trying to beat me
And I love to get up in your face
But I know that if I hate you for hating me
I will have entered the endless rage.
Her words are honest, confessional, and true. They name a stifled anger over both petty and significant things. And, she also names the consequences of entering into the domino affect of holding onto our hate. "If I hate you for hating me, I will have entered the endless rage."
I think we have seen the effects of endless rage in the last year, and it has been hard not to enter into it. Even if we have born it silently, anger has simmered under the surface of our daily lives. Maybe this is one of the reasons we are so divided as a nation. Perhaps, its not merely that we have disagreed, but that we have hated people for hating us or what we think and stand for.
Yesterday, marked a transition in our country. I know that people in our church have mixed emotions and opinions about our presidents (past and present) and about our government leaders. I know that there are a multitude of interpretations that people would share about why we are in our current state. If we were to name them all out loud, I feel rather confident that we would disagree.
But today, I am reminded that hating or resenting someone simply because they hate or resent me is a recipe for disaster. I am reminded in the lyrics of Feona Apple that maybe Jesus was actually on to something when he gave his Sermon on the Mount. As radical and difficult as his words are in Matthew 5:43-44, maybe he was sharing the answer to evil as a relay race. He said, “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."
May each of us try to take first steps to follow Jesus' guidance, not only for our enemy's sake, but for our own.
Peace to you all,