Changing lives through love
by Jesse Hove
The policies of the Stephen Harper-led government do not fit the code of following Jesus. Harper wants to increase the amount of money spent on jails and increase jail time to protect victims and their families. But Christianity teaches that in the end love wins, not sending someone to jail for a longer period of time.
Over the past year I have had stolen from me: my car, my wallet (twice), my cell phone and 140 dollars in birthday money that was going to go towards paying my rent. And briefly in those moments, I wanted to vote for someone who would send those people to jail for a long, long time. But does this really help to transform lives? For many of the young “criminals” who have been raised in less-than ideal environments, this is just further justification to go and commit more crimes. For others, they may no longer commit a crime because they fear punishment. But true transformation comes from people willing to give others a chance, and willingness to love the criminals who had never before been loved. And while we as victims may want revenge, what we need is emotional support; we need the assistance and the care required to heal and recover. If we do not get this support, as often is the case, the victim becomes the predator and the cycle continues. In the end more jail time is merely a band-aid on a bigger issue; in the end love is the only sufficient answer.
In a country that prides itself on making peace, and follows the tenet of the “peacemakers” being “Children of God” (Matthew 5:9), the Stephen Harper government wants to spend more money on the military. Perhaps the leader of the largest military budget in the world said it in best in relation to Christian scripture: “The Sermon on the Mount (is) a passage that is so radical that it is doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application,” said U.S. President Barack Obama in 2006. The “turn the other cheek” verse however does not imply that we masochistically let people walk all over us.
Theologian Walter Wink suggests that when we are hit on the cheek we should not cower and should not punch, but we should look the person in the eye and let them see our sacred humanity, that they are attacking a created image of God.
I think this is why some of my favourite followers of Jesus go to the places where we can easily forget about people. This is why Mother Theresa goes to India and why author Shane Claiborne went to Iraq to see his “family.” Claiborne had to experience an elderly woman, who has lost everything, ask him why his country is attacking her, while at the same time being treated like a family member.
He went to teach terrorists about love, only to find family he had never met before.