An article donated by Contributing Editor, Susan Humphreys
"Resist not Evil"
I have been reading Deepak Chopra’s book "The Third Jesus." I am not really thrilled with the book. BUT he did get me to think about a topic I don’t think he handled very well. That topic is the Biblical passage in Matthew 5:38-42:
"You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for 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. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (New International Version).
Far too many people have never really understood what was meant by this passage. I don’t think Chopra offers any new insights or practical advice for what you should do. In my opinion he appears to offer advice for how to remove the evil within you. However, he fails to acknowledge the issue of evil in others. Ignoring their evil doesn’t diminish it or remove the harm done to others or yourself. Also, it doesn’t make it go away.
Sometimes a person’s silence -- by refusing to confront evil -- becomes complicity. It encourages and emboldens the evildoer. It is important to remember Jesus didn’t have Internet trolls and bullies to deal with. His remarks were aimed at the powerless, the downtrodden, the slaves, and people under the thumb of an occupying foreign power.
This passage in Matthew isn’t just advice to behave non-violently; it is how to act wisely. It isn’t advising you to be a milquetoast, or wimp. It is advising you to be smarter than your opponent. To resist means to fight back, to respond in kind with that "eye for an eye" or "insult for insult" form of justice. Perhaps Jesus' intent might have been better understood if he had said:
not Evil with Evil."
But then wisdom teachers have often taught with riddles in an attempt to get us to THINK!
To "resist not" is telling you not to fight back with that "eye for an eye", evil for evil. BUT it doesn’t mean you can’t respond in other ways! Notice how in the passage in Matthew, Jesus advises responding with a kindness -- giving more than what is demanded of you.
In this day we need to respond to bullies, and those who call for acts of violence against others. ... BUT we can do so wisely, in a way that neuters them. Remember: simply ignoring the evildoer, pretending that our "good vibes" will drive their evil away or make it less harmful doesn’t work. It may ease our own stress but it doesn’t protect others from harm.
I think the meaning of the passage is how you should go about neutralizing, or removing the sting, or declawing, the person who does evil -- or commits an unkind act, or acts unjustly, or aggressively. Sometimes responding with an act of kindness as Jesus suggests is the best way to deal with a situation. In the recent issue about the boys from Covington Catholic High School and the "March for Life" in Washington, they responded to an act of aggression with an act of aggression. It would have been better if they had just walked away.
I recall one online exchange a year or so ago -- one man told me:;
"You are too dumb to even know
when you are being insulted".
I replied back:
"You can’t insult someone who refuses to be insulted and is a bigger person than you are."
That is what the "resist not evil" means. To resist what the man said to me would have meant for me to throw the insults back at him, to self-righteously call him a liar or other names. When I refused to do that, refused to "take his bait," and told him you can’t insult someone who refuses to be insulted, he got angry.
Too many people today are too quick to take offense.
Imagine a different scenario for the Kavanaugh hearing. What IF instead of responding aggressively and throwing a tantrum he had sat there quietly and admitted that in his past, when he was young, he did some things he wasn’t proud of, He could have taken the "wind out of the sails" of his accusers. That would be "resist not evil". Instead his violent reaction showed the world more of the nature of his true character than he wanted to reveal.
Imagine how you might handle some of the anti semitic or homosexual or transgender or whatever slurs that are thrown at you. Can you laugh at the slur, make a joke of their words — or tell them
"you have been drinking too much of that Kool-Aid."
and then go on with the points you want to make?
evildoer is taunting you and wants to get an angry, aggressive response from you or force you to shut up. Sometimes you can respond by pointing out the facts and saying there is no excuse for your ignorance in this day and age. Sometimes refusing to be silenced is your best tactic. Sometimes you need to ignore the online troll or bully -- they really can’t stand to be ignored or marginalized. Each situation is different and may require a very different response.
Someone in an online chat tried to make fun of my name by calling me "humps". I replied "Good grief; I have been called that since I was in grade school, and to be honest I have always liked the nickname! Attempting to make fun of another person’s name is childish, grow up."
That is refusing to be insulted.
Many today think their "cute" names—rethuglicans, dump for Trump, etc. are a sign of their cleverness. I point out it is a sign of their childishness. People make fun of another’s name or attack their character when they are unable to attack their arguments. So I point this out to them and suggest they stick to the argument at hand, if they are able!
Now I admit I can’t resist throwing a little bit of a punch back -- thus my remarks about "grow up", and "drinking too much of that Kool-Aid" or "you can’t insult someone who is bigger than
you are!" It is "firing a warning shot across their bow," It says I can give as good if not better than I get, so back off!
One other thought: Always standup for someone else who is being bullied. You can offer the bullied person encouragement and support and you can censure the bully. Tell them that what the bully is doing is wrong. This will turn the bully away from the weaker or more fragile person and focus their attention to you. But if you have a strong character you can handle it without being brought down to the bully’s level.
If several people would speak up and censure the bully the bully will back down. He/she can’t bully a crowd that stands against him/her.
Often the bully
at this point will play the "poor me" card, everyone is picking on me. We saw this recently with Gayle King’s interview on CBS of the rock star R. Kelly. AND we see it regularly from Donald Trump and many of his Republican supporters with the cries of "witch hunts" and "fake news."
When cornered, the bully will try to claim that he/she is the victim here. Michelle Obama has made the statement "When they go low, we go high." This is what "resist not evil" means. Resist means to protest, to fight back, to give as good as you get, that "eye for an eye" -- insult for an insult. She is advising people to ignore the insults and respond by taking the "high road" and show them and the rest of the world you are better than they are!
Wise words for those that have ears to hear AND for those with the strength of character that it takes to "resist not evil" by responding not with more evil but wisely!
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- Deepak Chopra, "The Third Jesus." Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store It is available in Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover, Paperback, and Audio CD formats. Amazon.com customers have rated this book with 4.1 stars out of a maximum of five.
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Original posting: 2019-MAR
Author: Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys