|01-02-2017, 10:49 AM||#1|
Joined: Aug 2014
From: Blue Planet
Showing Kindness to ... No, Not All!
I read an interesting quote by Baha'ullah right now, and thought to share it with you, because it changed my own old idea.
O ye beloved of the Lord! The Kingdom of God is founded upon equity and justice, and also upon mercy, compassion, and kindness to every living soul. Strive ye then with all your heart to treat compassionately all humankind—except for those who have some selfish, private motive, or some disease of the soul. Kindness cannot be shown the tyrant, the deceiver, or the thief, because, far from awakening them to the error of their ways, it maketh them to continue in their perversity as before. No matter how much kindliness ye may expend upon the liar, he will but lie the more, for he believeth you to be deceived, while ye understand him but too well, and only remain silent out of your extreme compassion.
It is a very interesting, new teaching for me, because I always thought I must be kind to all people no matter what, and yet I always thought some people would misuse the kindness we show towards them. Now here is dear Baha'ullah telling us to whom we should be kind and to whom we should not be. And I think to not be kind doesn't mean to be an enemy or something. It must mean a moderate behavior that shows stability and strength of spirit.
Now the question in my mind is, as all the religions have come from One Source, how can we interpreter the Christian beliefs in case of kindness to go with Baha'ullah's order? I have heard that Jesus said that if someone slaps you on the right cheek, you must bring your left cheek as well to be slapped. that somehow means kindness to all. I guess even Bahaullah was kind with His enemies, those who lies and tortured Him. so how can we interpret His words?
Last edited by maryamr; 01-02-2017 at 10:53 AM.
|01-02-2017, 11:37 AM||#3|
Joined: Aug 2014
From: Blue Planet
|01-02-2017, 01:58 PM||#4|
Joined: Mar 2013
From: Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
"In every dispensation, there hath been the commandment of fellowship and love, but it was a commandment limited to the community of those in mutual agreement, not to the dissident foe. In this wondrous age, however, praised be God, the commandments of God are not delimited, not restricted to any one group of people, rather have all the friends been commanded to show forth fellowship and love, consideration and generosity and loving-kindness to every community on earth. Now must the lovers of God arise to carry out these instructions of His: let them be kindly fathers to the children of the human race, and compassionate brothers to the youth, and self-denying offspring to those bent with years. The meaning of this is that ye must show forth tenderness and love to every human being, even to your enemies, and welcome them all with unalloyed friendship, good cheer, and loving-kindness. When ye meet with cruelty and persecution at another's hands, keep faith with him; when malevolence is directed your way, respond with a friendly heart. To the spears and arrows rained upon you, expose your breasts for a target mirror-bright; and in return for curses, taunts and wounding words, show forth abounding love. Thus will all peoples witness the power of the Most Great Name, and every nation acknowledge the might of the Ancient Beauty, and see how He hath toppled down the walls of discord, and how surely He hath guided all the peoples of the earth to oneness; how He hath lit man's world, and made this earth of dust to send forth streams of light."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 20)
It is important to understand that there is a difference between an individual showing kindness and forgiveness to everyone and society neglecting to protect the innocent by forgiving criminals and letting them continue committing crimes. We must defend the weak and vulnerable and not let evil people continue to harm others. As an individual we forgive them.
This is also what is done in practice among Christians, of course, they don't just follow Jesus' teachings to forgive but they also defend themselves and others.
|01-02-2017, 02:42 PM||#5|
Joined: Nov 2015
This quote from Baha'u'llah is consistent with the Gospels. What we need to understand is that, when it comes to these evil people, severity is a form of kindness. It is kind to criticize them, because it may move them toward the good direction.
|01-02-2017, 04:19 PM||#6|
Joined: Feb 2016
From: United States
It was a relief to read this quote, since it addresses what I feel to be the deepest flaws in a very common concept of compassion. We do not have to endure everything out of some misguided notions of what compassion should be!
Growing up as a Christian, I was taught that the command to "turn the other cheek" applied mainly to insults, not actual physical harm. A slap in the face, in the context of the Biblical quote, was a sign of disrespect more than a dire physical assault. The idea was to remain composed in the face of that disrespect. While some Christians choose to believe that it is wrong to defend yourself at all, most Christians I have met have no problem with a legitimate instance of physical self-defense.
|01-03-2017, 02:10 PM||#7|
Joined: Jun 2014
And The Thief
Abdul-Baha's basic premise seems to be that kindness only hurts these people. Essentially reacting to the injustices of tyranny, lying, and thievery only offers positive reinforcement for them to continue that behavior.
So now how does this equate to Jesus's teachings about these three classes of people??
First, a basic guideline from Jesus (that perhaps you are thinking of):
Let's take this in mind and then look back at the three exceptions to kindness Abdul-Baha identifies, identify the “Kind” response, the “Loving” response, and finally Jesus’s own response.
Let's say we have a tyrant in a locality. He brutally oppresses the people, taxes them to highly, burdens and micromanages them, and generally does everything that would earn one the title of "tyrant".
The Kind Response: Let's then imagine that in response to this tyrant, all the people of his country are kind in return, lavishing him with praise and showing happiness in submitting to his rule. This gives the tyrant a false impression that what he is doing is correct, as he's getting a positive response from the people whenever he oppresses them. A tyrant who is rewarded by his people for tyranny will only continue to be a tyrant (and history itself can often show us examples of this, where popular tyrants flourish).
The Loving Response: Let's imagine the alternate scenario, where the people under the tyrant's thumb are not kind towards the tyrant, but are rather loving towards the tyrant. Someone who loves the tyrant would not, necessarily, treat them kindly, but would seek to reform and correct the tyrant. The people would rise up in opposition to their beloved tyrant when the tyrant errs (assuming they are not blinded by love, but that's another topic), to seek to impose Justice upon the tyrant not only for the benefit of the country but for the benefit of the tyrant himself.
Jesus’ Response: Jesus was fairly unkind to tyrants. I mean, it's not especially a nice thing to go around to the congregation of a priest and tell them that the priest is deceiving them and teaching them false things in order to achieve the priest's own ambitions in life, but that's exactly what Jesus did to the Pharisees. It wasn't a nice thing to throw those people from their figurative pedestals, but ultimately exposing the corruption within the Jewish clergy at that time period was undoubtedly the right and loving thing to do.
Now let's imagine a deceiver. From a very young age this person lies and deceives and cheats to get what they want. Again, let's imagine the people around him in two scenarios, in one the people around him responding with kindness, the other love.
The Kind Response: Every single time the child is caught in a lie, the people around them regardless capitulate to what the child wants out of kindness. The child learns that lying gets them what they want, and continues to lie and decieve throughout their entire life, learning that lying brings them what they desire.
The Loving Response: When the child is caught in a lie, the people around them call them out on it, and impose some consequence (a fair consequence, not an unjust one) on the child for their actions. Out of love, kindness is not favored because rewarding the child for deceit only teaches them that deceit is good. In other words, the situation requires "tough love", unkind, but loving and for ultimately a good purpose.
Jesus’ Response: Jesus was fairly unkind to deceivers as well. It’s not exactly a kind thing to do to reveal a liar’s deceit to the public, but again, this is something Jesus did to the lies of the ruling priests. Again it wasn't a nice, but undoubtedly the right and loving thing to do.
Now let's imagine a thief. From a very young age this person shoplifts and takes what they want. Again, let's imagine the people around him in two scenarios, in one the people around him responding with kindness, the other love.
The Kind Response: Every single time the child is caught stealing, the people around them either buy for the child the item they wanted, or let them have the item they wanted in the first place. The child essentially learns they have the right to whatever they want.
The Loving Response: When the child is stealing, they are again reprimanded and punished, again fairly so. The child learns that they cannot take whatever they want and benefits in the long run. Again, it is "tough love", unkind, but loving and for ultimately a good purpose.
Jesus’ Response: This one class of people is, where I must admit, the words of Jesus and Abdul-Baha seem to differ, as Jesus said the following:
So while it seems that Jesus and Abdul-Baha agree on the subject of treating tyrants and liars... they offer differing approaches to the subject of thievery.
Why might this appear to differ?? I see a few possibilities.
One Bible interpreter has stated that this act, specifically, was not an act of kindness but would have been an act of shaming the thief. Basically his theory is that for someone to sue someone for their shirt, it would essentially amount to being a lawsuit against a poor person, because only then would the person's shirt be up for claim in a lawsuit. A cloak, however, cannot be taken away under Jewish Law in a lawsuit because a warm cloak is necessary for survival, to which all people have a basic right (see Exodus 22:26 for the importance of cloaks in Jewish Law). Thereby the act of surrendering not only your clothing to your thief, but also the property you need to live, the interpreter suggests, is an act to shame the thief for their actions. I don't personally think this is the correct interpretation, but I'm including it here anyway as a valid possibility.
Another possibility is that this is a "Survival Mechanism Law". By this term I mean that it is a rule made not because it is inherently just, but because it was necessary for the survival of the faith as a whole. An example of such a law, I'd argue, is in the Baha'i commandment to obey the government of the country in which you reside. This is not a just law, as it requires Baha'is in certain places to willingly submit to tyranny, but it is a necessary law, as our Faith would undoubtedly be wiped out should we all collectively attempt to resist all tyrants in the world today. We need to submit to even tyrannical law because that's the only way we can survive to spread the Word of God. Jesus, similarly, gives the command to submit to theft (and even go further) in two places, one in result of a lawsuit and one in the result of being attacked by bandits. These commands both given at a time when Jesus' disciples numbered very few. Should a follower of Jesus refuse to submit to a tyrannical court ruling depriving him of his property, Christianity might be a target of state suppression. Should a follower of Jesus refuse to give his property to bandits, that follower would be then killed by the bandits. Meanwhile a traveler more than willing to turn over his property to bandits has a greater chance of not being killed by those bandits. In this way, Jesus' advice could be seen as advice not applying to all thieves, but merely being a way to allow early Christians to survive the times they lived in.
Another possibility (related to the above) is that the verse isn't about treating the thief kindly but rather fits the theme of submission to the rule of law, which both Jesus and Baha'u'llah emphasized, again probably as a means for their follower's survival.
And that's all I have for now.
Last edited by Walrus; 01-03-2017 at 02:14 PM.