Reader Email: "It is better to be the one in pain than the one administering it."
Date: January 17, 2009 9:34:29 PM EST
Subject: Turning the other cheek
I am so glad that you opened up a discussion on spirituality. I definitely agree that this topic quite often gets overlooked, which is ironic considering how vital it is to our lives.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this exact question that you pose, of what does “turn the other cheek” really mean. It seems like lately I have been in many situations where that seems like the Christian thing to do, however the psychologist in me says “No you can’t allow someone to treat you like this.” I hate making excuses for people and I am big on making people take responsibility for their actions.
Like yourself I have struggled with my dad over the past two years because I believed that I in fact should never “turn the other cheek” and that instead people need to be taught a lesson. He argued with me because he has turned his cheek more times than I can ever count and he is a strong believer of this making him a better person but he also claimed that it “freed him.” I simply couldn’t see it. Until one day we had a breakthrough. I came to him with what seemed to me like an impossible situation; there was no way I could teach this person a lesson but I felt wronged and needed some kind of resolution. That is when he said something to me that will probably stay with me forever “Hunny it is better to be the one in pain than the one administering it.” It hit me like a brick. Finally the light went off.
I became very interested in religion my last couple of years of college and have learned so much about the Bible and how to interpret it. I can to understand that the Bible is not at all a book to be taken literally, instead because of the layers of culture and languages that have now intertwined to form what we use as our Bible today you have literally “unpack” and “unravel” every verse. Not to mention that Jesus spoke in proverbs and often his sermons had hidden meanings. What this means to me is that you can take “turn the other cheek” literally but you can also try and think about what could have been the motivation and the hidden message of this text.
I believe that this text has a much deeper meaning and what it means is that by turning the other cheek you are preserving your dignity and personhood. You are keeping yourself pure and away from hurting another individual. People who cause pain and hurt at some point in their life will start to feel the weight of their disregard for humanity. Not inkeeping with such a way of life you in turn give yourself peace. You can go to sleep knowing that you have tried your best not to hurt, offend, lie or disresepct. And ultimately isn’t that a much better reward than “getting the last word or hit?”
Thats my take on it.
P.S. If you want to get into a discussion about spirituality I would highly recommend A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren. It changed my life.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
RB: Julia, Jan 18 - 1:55pm
And now, Julia takes a minute to share some reader feedback. Apparently, her spirituality post is popular, as evidenced by this:
Posted by NSRB at 2:02 AM