Ulmer: Forgive your enemies, pray for persecutors

Ulmer: Forgive your enemies, pray for persecutors

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Seems to me that the big book said something about settling matters by poking each other’s eyes out would eventually make us all blind.

I believe the fella that who tried stopping the blind from leading the blind into a ditch offered the best cure for this malady. Remember he was the one who told us when struck on one cheek we are to offer the assailant our other cheek.

He sure left us with what seems like crazy advisory snippets that all of us struggle with. It’s kinda like he knew how hard it would be to follow his instructions. But then again the gates of heaven are narrow.

Which reminds me to ask you if you’ve ever seen a rich man thread a camel through the eye of the needle? Me neither, let me know if it’s on YouTube, but I digress.

Like you there’s nothing easy about turning the other cheek. I do recall a time when I got punched in the nose and once I got up rather than counter punch I ran straight home. Not sure that counts for much though.

However it didn’t take me long to forgive my assailant and we are good friends today. As I look back I’ve experienced thousands of personal assaults, many from people I’ve never met. It comes with the territory of spending 22 years in elected public office, 12 years of working with kids in or on their way to jail, and a lifetime of trying to help people solve their problems. Early on in my life I learned that forgiving my enemies and praying for those who persecute me frees me to understand the world through their eyes.

It takes two to tango (for those of you under 60 tango is a dance) and sometimes there’s a lot of bumping and grinding out there on the dance floor. Sometimes folks have been known to cut in and cut off another’s partner which has at times caused angst on the dance floor.

Angst can quickly escalate into action that often awakens our flight or fight instincts. Anyone in public office will tell you that there’s nothing easy about untangling the angst created by the tugs and pulls of a free society.

The choice when leading we the people involves deciding whether to lead with a tug or be led by a pull. Above all else when it comes to the public’s interest all sides need to be heard and that requires us to listen to those who oppose us before deciding. The hard part involves having the strength to bear the consequences of your actions while knowing that there could be more unhappy than happy people with whatever you decided.

Some opponents will be quite vocal, some may be deeply harmed, some may even wish you or your family harm, but even they need to be heard and often times it’s very difficult to turn the other cheek.

So when you find yourself stuck in a barrel surrounded by a mob wielding sticks trying to beat the sides of your barrel off you have a three options:

  • Duck deep into the barrel and hope the crowd tires out before all they have left to beat on is you.
  • Frantically knock the bottom of the barrel out then stand up and run.
  • Do all you can to distract the mob; cry, scream, play dead, get them to pause long enough for you to talk your way out of the barrel and abscond to a safe house.
  • Wait until the sides are beaten off, dust yourself off, adjust your outfit, smile, and state, "I hope you’re satisfied now because I have another crowd down the street that wants me to get into their barrel. You have my number call me when you get another barrel."

There’s nothing easy about turning the other cheek, but then again the results of the blind leading the blind aren't that good either. 

Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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