A few humble thoughts about police state style surveillance and the U.S. Constitution

This year is flying by rapidly and the news moves so lightning-fast that a huge event in February is ancient history in April. I am a regular working person with a full-time job who blogs as a side gig so I am a little behind on the news cycle. This post was written February 4th, a couple days after the release of Devin Nunes memo that revealed the FBI FISA warrant abuse.

My method is this: I write a first draft — in longhand in my special “first-draft” notebook. I let the first draft percolate several days and then write a second draft — in longhand in my special “second-draft” notebook. By the time I type it out and post it on my blog it is the third draft. It’s a process I’ve worked out over the years and I like it. It’s not efficient or expedient, but neither efficiency or expediency is high on my priority list right now. What is at the top on my priority list is getting closer to the truth about the world we live in.

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When assessing my reaction to the Nunes memo, which was released to the public Friday February 2, 2018, the first step is to figure out my comfort level with powerful government agencies that can spy on whichever American citizen they want for whatever purpose. Let me set aside for a moment whether the powerful agency can use fictional documents to get a warrant on you. Let me first consider whether I like the idea that highly-trained taxpayer-funded investigators can spy on me at will. Okay I have considered the issue: I don’t.

Before 9/11, perhaps most people found surveillance of the American people abhorrent. Then the shock and horror of the 9/11 event softened the mindset of the masses and made it easier for the government to sneak into our everyday activities. Some say this was the reason the event happened – or at least one of the reasons. Even it was not a planned inside job, they absolutely did jump on it as an opportunity to tighten the surveillance on us. So now, as revealed in 2013 (?) by Edward Snowden, they are always spying on us. This FISA surveillance of an individual is nothing more than taking the usual spying to a more focused level.

I looked up surveillance on Dictionary.com:

Surveillance: n. Close observation of a person or group, especially on under suspicion.

By that definition, we are all inherently under suspicion. What is it we are all under suspicion for? Likelihood of undermining some State agenda that we had no part if creating? Wanting to live according to our rights as human beings or maybe just the ones defined in the U.S. Bill of Rights? I don’t know — just a couple of wild guesses off the top of my head. If they were surveilling us just for our protection and to make sure we didn’t kill each other, maybe I could have some tolerance for it. But certain events, such as the Las Vegas massacre and other wiggly massacres, in which the FBI interviewed the supposed perpetrators kind of point to the idea that preservation of lives is not a priority of government law enforcers and secret agencies.

My initial reaction to the memo is anger albeit a sort of jaded anger because there is nothing in the memo that I did not strongly suspect. There was an abundance of evidence reported in both the mainstream and alternative media that the “dossier” was a sham piece of trash paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign (which according to Donna Brazil were one and the same thing). But I did not know the mundane details about who signed what form and how many times they renewed the warrant to surveille Carter Page.

My second, and more lasting reaction, is a sense of profound sadness that it has come to the point that we need a scrupulously drafted, legally precise document by a Congressional Intelligence Committee even to get some of the people concerned about a secret police force and what the secret police feel free to do. Maybe this memo will help me get motivated to really reflect hard on how a free country is supposed to operate. All my life I have been told I live in a free country, and now I see that I don’t and perhaps never have.

It would be a great idea to re-read the U.S. Constitution. As the real law of the land that all of our government officials swear to uphold, the U.S. constitution is, by definition, the way things are supposed to work in this country. My personal preference would be a completely free humanity, for of law, free to choose, and wise enough to choose the good. But even in such a world, the happiness of the human race would depend upon obedience to the highest law, God’s law of love, the law that holds all things together. I don’t think we have evolved to the level of consciousness that would make this level of freedom possible, so we still need to abide by the best and least restrictive man-made law we can come up with, and I don’t believe we have yet come up with any man-made law that is better than the U.S. Constitution.

It is troubling that we have been unable to live up to such a simple set of laws and have not been able to hold our elected officials accountable for upholding them. Maybe I will do a series of blog posts on different parts of the Constitution. Maybe there are things that should be changed or modernized but we are not in a good position to make such assessments until we thoroughly understand what it says, what concerns underlie each part, and what are the possible implications of changing it. The first step is understanding; the second is caring. Or more likely, understanding and caring are equally important.

We have a time-tested electoral system that enables us to elect a President in an orderly way that is as fair as possible to the various interests that exist under the flag of the United States of America. The vote of each legal U.S. voter is supposed to count. The FBI, the CIA, the NSA, or any of the other secret police agencies are not actually in the Constitution. They are, if they exist at all, supposed to be part of the executive branch, answerable to the President elected by the people using the electoral college system. As such, agencies like the FBI are supposed to be non-political law enforcement organizations.

Speaking of the executive branch, I was a bit shocked by the extent Barack H. Obama involved himself in the 2016 presidential campaign. Of course, I realize any President would be likely to support the candidate of his own political party; but to insult and ridicule the opposing candidate, to aggressively campaign as if your life depended on it for one candidate over the over seemed to me tacky, gauche, and unethical. The way he was throwing the weight of the most powerful office on earth around in favor of HRC was eye opening to say the least.

In my humble opinion, a fair election would let each candidate speak for his or her case and let the people make up our minds unhampered by noisy Presidents, pop starts, propaganda-driven media, and pastors all telling us who we should vote for. Who believes BHO supported HRC because he sincerely believed you and I would be better off with another President Clinton? Do you think he had some other reason? What do you think it was?

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Questioning the mainstream narrative – and my list of favorite YouTube truth seekers

For much of my life, I have looked at each event as an isolated incident and not really pursued roots and causes, at least not aggressively. I did read a lot, and thought I was well educated, but I tended to accept the official or culturally accepted narratives for why things happen as they do. For example, on September 11, 2001 it never occurred to me to question the official narrative of the terrorist attack: the one that told us a bunch of Middle Eastern guys took flying lessons and then hi-jacked commercial planes and crashed them into buildings because they hated America. Whether or not that narrative is true, it is outlandish enough that looking back, I now find it shocking that it didn’t even occur to me to question its veracity. I never even asked obvious questions such as “Hey where was the United States Air Force?” I thought it was perfectly natural that the President of the United States happened to be innocently reading a story to third graders at the time. I trusted the authorities and swallowed that story hook, line, and sinker.

These days I have awakened enough to think about things more and question everything. Are there reasons for the things that happen or do things happen randomly without deeper meaning? I now tend to suspect there is at least a message in everything that happens, even in my personal life. A woman gives me a dirty look at Walmart, I slam on my breaks to avoid hitting a squirrel and someone honks, a house burns down a mile away, someone tries to break into a neighbor’s house, my car battery dies, my mother dies at 70 because of a blood disease she contracted during a hospital stay two decades earlier, my son dies at 23 for no apparent reason, my dog dies of lymphoma, a co-worker dies three days after a cancer diagnosis, I receive an award at work I don’t think I deserve, I receive a long letter from an old friend, a word I’ve never thought about before pops up three times in the same day. Some of these things profoundly change the course of my life forever; others wash over me almost unnoticed until I stop and reflect.

Other than the deaths of loved ones, my most vivid personal experiences are internal — mysterious inner promptings. Why do I suddenly have the intense urge to start writing again after a year-long dry spell? Or to do art? Why does my motivation ebb and flow? Why do I suddenly know things I shouldn’t know? Why did I have a terrifying premonition that my son was going to die in his sleep a week before he did? Why did my premonition not stop it from happening?

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Life is journey toward the light. Photo by me.

Nothing happens without a cause, but I cannot even usually detect the causes of my own decisions. Why do I almost never remember my dreams and then suddenly I have a vivid one that haunts me all day? I seem to exist in a tiny circle of light surrounded by fog. But I seek, I really do seek constantly, to make that circle larger, to see and know more, and in the last couple of years have begun to seek knowledge and truth on a more conscious level. My whole life is a detective novel and the mystery is who I am and why I am here.

One thing I know is that my personal mysteries exist within a much larger context. That’s why I am so fascinated by the news of the world. California is burning of wildfires and what are those pictures that look like blue laser beams from the sky? The emergency alert system tells people in Hawaii they are about to get hit with a missile and a few minutes later says “never-mind.” Nearly 1,000 people get shot in Las Vegas and 154 die — then some of the survivors suddenly die in bizarre ways in the days and weeks that follow. The news tells us that one crazy guy shot them all while a bunch of eye witnesses say there was shooting at all different locations. And then the story vanishes from the news. A young college student walks into a part at night and never returned and a week later they find his body. People in Arizona report strange light phenomena in the sky. A plane takes off from LAX to Tokyo and five hours later turns around over the Pacific Ocean and flies back to LAX. Official reason lame and makes no sense.

I like to watch YouTube videos created by people brave enough to to question the mainstream narratives and present their attempts to follow the threads and connect the dots. These people are frequently derided as “conspiracy nuts.” I see them as individual citizens doing their best with the resources they have to seek truth, and generous and interested enough to share their findings and ideas with the rest of us. They would not need to do this if the “official” world were honest, the media were trustworthy, justice was distributed equally, and the mainstream version of reality made sense.

For a long time, I thought reality was pretty much as presented on the news, in commercials, on TV shows, and as taught in school. If my personal reality did not quite match up with the TV version of reality, well that,use be a defect in my personal reality. Boy, was I brainwashed! I thought a bill on Capitol Hill went through a clean process until it became a law, and the law was good and made America a better place. I thought elections took place according to our time-tested election process and whoever won took office and did the job he or she was elected to do. I thought you went to school, studied hard, graduated from high school or junior college or college and got a good job according to your ability. You followed the rules because the rules were right and good; if you worked hard you got a nice car and got to live in a nice house in a good neighborhood with top-rated schools. Your kids grew up safe, healthy, and well educated.

For me, this model almost worked. But somewhere along the line the smooth façade of this narrative ripped and eventually shredded and fell to utter shreds. I began to question everything I thought was true. Years ago I was introduced to YouTube through my kids. During their teen years, they both learned marketable skills by watching videos. One learned to fix smartphones and one learned photography. So, curious, I started exploring art videos, and eventually – somehow stumbled upon the truth-tellers. I became fascinated by all the different versions of reality.

I should give credit to some of my favorite old writers who primed my mind for accepting different versions of reality. G.K. Chesterton and Albert Jay Nock are two delightful ones for the way they have of turning generally accepted “truth” on its head. And then Leo Tolstoy’s later Christian writings took my mind a radical step further. I think my reading prepared me to be receptive to the new ideas I found in these YouTube videos.

I gravitate toward the ones who seem most sincere and most motivated by a pure desire to seek and communicate truth. There is a great movement taking place right now, in which more and more people are joining through the power of the internet to share knowledge of the truth about our world. Some call it the great awakening. In a time like this, when the future of humanity is at stake, there is little room for self-aggrandizement.

I want to list a few of my favorite truth seekers here. Every day I discover new truth seekers and will share more as we go along. I don’t say that these people are right about every single thing – only that I think they are sincere in their quest for truth and I sense they are motivated by concern for the good of humanity. These are the kind of people who are quick to acknowledge any error they make. Those on my list are the ones I think are pretty good at discerning truth through research and reason.

I started the list with my favorite — Tracy Beanz, followed by my latest channel subscription, The Right Media, someone I just discovered today. Other than that, the channels are in no particular order. I have linked to the latest video as of the time of this writing (Sunday, Jan 14, 2018, 1:00 pm). If you want to check these people out, I’d look at their About link and scan their list of videos to get an idea of what they talk about. These are channels that mostly concentrate on current events. (There are others I really love who concentrate on history and spiritual matters. I will highlight those wonderful channels in another post.)

Favorite YouTube Truth-Seekers

Could 2018 be the Year of Truth?

I love beginnings – mornings, new projects, puppies, babies, new years. So, every January I feel hopeful. But this new year I am feeling something more than hope – it is more like a delicious anticipation, the dawning of joy. Perhaps 2018 will be the year of truth, the year everything that is hidden is shown in the full light of day, the year that light is shined into every dark dusty corner.

This might not seem like such great news to everybody. None of us are perfect, but the more evil you do, the more painful the light is going to be. Once the purge is over it will be a better world for everyone, including the perpetrators of evil.  No true human being wants to live in the filth of evil and sin – with all the stress and nightmares, unpleasant deals with the devil’s representatives, and worries about being exposed. If all the good things in your life – the power, the travel, the great food, the expensive medical treatments, the luxurious houses – are supported by evil things such as financial corruption, blackmail, exploitation, or immoral trade practices, well it’s time for all that stuff to come to an end. You’ll be happier in the long run — once you repent and receive forgiveness from the Father, the real God, the source of all that exists.

I’ve done quite a bit of research in the past year and have come to realize that the world system enjoyed by the rich and powerful depends upon the exploitation and victimization of multitudes, in fact most of the world’s population. I’ve had glimmers of this insight before. I used to think about the cathedrals, the art, the castles, the horses, and the jewels of rich people in history and how they could not have lived that way and had those things without the back-breaking labor of numerous servants, humans who barely had enough food to sustain life. I used to think, “Thank goodness it’s not like that anymore. We have electricity and appliances. Now people can live good lives without servants.”

I did not know it is still like that — millions working at subsistence level so the few can live in luxury — but on a different level, and more concealed from the middle classes, mostly through propaganda and suburban isolation.  I am not among the rich and powerful but I thought I had a good life. I have been one of the lucky ones in that I have had reliable food and shelter all my life and have been able to support my children and lived without constant danger, though maybe not as lucky as I thought I was. I have spent much of my life believing things that are not true. I have been deceived.

The current system that is based on fear and predation ought never have been allowed to begin, much less go on for centuries. In January 2013 Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer famously said in a TV news interview, “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” When I heard that I thought, “Why should we be living in a system in which we are supposed to be afraid of some ‘intelligence community’?” In Mr. Schumer’s world, he spoke the truth. But the kind of world system where this statement is true has to end because it is not what our good creator has in mind for the human race.

The system alluded to by Chuck Schumer includes not only an unelected shadow government but high-level money laundering to conceal human trafficking and the exploitation of humans as sex slaves, low wage slaves, and just plain slaves. Then there are the folks at my level: tax slaves and war-fighting slaves. War benefits the few and kills the many. Taxes force working people to pay for all of it. This whole system must and will come to an end, and the sooner the better. If nothing else, it will collapse under its own weight. But in addition to the grossly overstuffed weight of evil, there are forces in play that are working to to bring it down. People all over the world are waking up.

I am looking forward to the world that is going to emerge from the sludge once the evil is exposed and swept away. It will be different and it will be better. There will be a period of rehabilitation – like after you have survived a life-threatening fever and are weak for a while but know you are on the road to recovery. We must be especially kind and gentle during that transition period, even to the evil doers themselves. Many of them were deceived and many were born into the evil system or pulled in as young adults.

All of us, no matter what we’ve done or how we have lived will have ample opportunity to repent, embrace, and be part of the new world system, which will be based on our Father’s eternal law of love and kindness. Who, given the chance, would not want to be part of it? It will be delight: wave upon wave of unfolding joy. Those of us who have lived in the darkness, been deceived, or been victimized will experience unimaginable joy just by the sheer comparison.

Have you ever suffered poverty or been freezing cold and then received a financial windfall or gotten to a warm place? Have you ever thought a loved one was going to die and then found out they were going to live? Have you ever lost a child and then found him safe and sound? Then you have experienced a drop of the kind of joy you will know as a member of the human family in the new world.

If you have robbed or raped or murdered people, you will go to prison. I don’t like that there will be prisons in the new world, at least in the transition period, but the people must see justice done as part of the healing process. If you repent and accept God’s system of love, kindness, and non-violence, then even in your prison cell you will be happier than you were as a beneficiary of that blood- and fear-soaked system that is gone forever. Human souls are eternal. Your prison term may last the remainder of your physical life, but after that you can look forward to joy as far an your imagination can see.

Our loving Father wants to forgive those who seek forgiveness. Some people are angry about the suffering you have caused and wish you to burn in hell. But lucky for you, our God is eager to forgive all sinners who come to Him. I think the only souls who go to hell are those who will not repent and refuse to embrace the truth, even when it staring them in the face. God wants to forgive but will not force you.

Yeshua explained all of this to his disciples and to the human race during his ministry on earth 2000 or so years ago. If you re-read the gospels, starting with Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount, with your ears fully perked to hear the truth, you may find the words of Christ making more sense in 2018 than they ever have before.

Epiphanies

Epiphany:

  1. A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi, traditionally observed January 6th.
  2. A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.
  3. A sudden insight or intuitive understanding: “He had a painful epiphany about the absurdity of the job and quite.” (Aleksander Hernon)

 From thefreedictionary.com

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I do not have big dramatic epiphanies very often. Just small epiphanies as I go about my day, popping in my mind like fish jumping above the surface of the lake. Hiccups rather than earthquakes. They are more like proto-epiphanies, small realizations with the potential to explode into epiphanies if they were given the proper attention; seeds ready to sprout.

The visit of the Magi represents the manifestation of Jesus’s divine nature, says the definition. Certain shepherds abiding in their fields had already seen His divine nature manifested when the angel appeared to them and told them of the glorious birth. Apparently, the shepherds and all other persons in Jesus’s life up until the visit of the Magi were Jewish. The Feast of Epiphany is about the revelation to the Gentiles.

From this point in human history the Gentile/Jew thing seems like a small point to me. I mean, His divinity is a huge point, as big as the universe; when the Jews found out and when the Gentiles found out seems pretty minor in comparison. I’m sure there is more to it than meets the eye, but much of it is lost on me. To me humans are humans. If Jesus, or as I like to call Him — Yeshua, came to our world to set the eternal course of human destiny in motion, then those 33 years he spent as a Jew ought to be pretty much swallowed up by events in 2018.

Anyway…my personal epiphanies get sown as thought seeds, perhaps from above, perhaps from below, perhaps from within. Where do thoughts come from and how do they get into our minds? I don’t like using passive verb phrases like “get sown.” If a seed gets sown, then someone or something has to sow it. I suppose the activity we call “thinking” means my mind is sowing thoughts. So far so good.

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But it can’t be that simple. If “thinking” generates thoughts, someone or something has to be causing my mind to think. That something is, as far as I know, my mind… but that means my mind is causing my mind to think. I can say, “I think I will sit down and think for a while” or even “I think I will sit down and think about thinking.” Which is what I am doing right now. I am sitting on a chair with a laptop on my lap thinking about thinking and writing my thoughts as I think them. But who and what is this “I” who decides my mind is going to set about generating some thoughts?

And then, not all “thoughts” require so much conscious effort. Like seeds, they can just blow in on the breeze, fall into the ground, and take root. Still, neither seeds nor thoughts create themselves. Whether blown or sown, they have to already exist before then can sprout into plants or ideas. And now it looks like the seed metaphor, as all metaphors eventually do, has reached its limit. We know seeds do not create themselves, but do we really know the same is true of thoughts? Perhaps thoughts are more like art: they get made from pre-existing elements but are entirely new creations. Some of them.

Thoughts come in different varieties. Some mind activities that pass themselves off as “thoughts” are really just downloaded pre-packaged cultural assumptions or learned patterns. It’s okay to take mental shortcuts – in fact it’s impossible to function without a few of them. I don’t want to have to rethink my morning routine every time I wake up or consider why I wear the clothing I put on or why I wear clothing at all; or why a certain piece of paper worth 20 dollars and who sets the value of a dollar. I just want to get dressed and give my money at Wawa for a coffee and a roasted veggie omelet so my mind can be free to generate fresher, more interesting thoughts. We wouldn’t get very far without a huge store of pre-packaged automated thought patterns.

This morning while I drink my coffee, I let my thought seeds or proto-epiphanies percolate in my mind. For me, the water that makes thoughts sprout into ideas, plans, and sometimes enlightened epiphanies, is the process of writing. Sometimes the husks are tough and it takes a lot of hard writing to get them to crack. Other times the lightest touch of pen to paper bursts a thought into flowers of inspiration.

Epiphany is a flash of light. Light leads to seeing new things. Seeing new things leads to knowledge. Knowledge leads to getting closer to truth, and truth is divine. So, there you go: epiphany is the manifestation of the divine to this Gentile.

Welcome 2018! I expect a lot from you.

Here I am. Keeping my new year resolution to write every day. My writing life became scattered and I lost my way because of a tragedy that happened 17 months ago. It threw my whole life off its track and all but wiped my mind clean. The tragedy was very bad, the worst possible thing that could have happened to me. It was the death of my son, a son I loved — and still love — more than anything else, including my own life. But getting thrown off the track of my life was not all bad. For starters, I have spent the last 17 months rethinking every “fact” I thought I knew and questioning every assumption, overt and hidden, I ever had.

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Well darn – I don’t know who to credit for this great cartoon. I will try to find out.

I will start my new writing life the most simple, back-to-basics way I know: writing my raw thoughts here on this neglected blog that nobody reads and that up until now, I have never promoted. If you are reading this, I apologize for inadvertently implying that you are “nobody.” I am so glad you are here, but as of January 1, 2018, you are a rare bird.

This blog, I have just now decided, will be the locus of my renewed writing energy, the think tank from which other projects will emerge, the primordial ooze from which essays, poems, stories, and brilliant ideas will develop into living things. It is also where I may spout off about politics, so be forewarned. Everything in my mind is connected. I don’t compartmentalize well. So politics will probably spill over into religion and religion into spirituality and spirituality into thoughts on philosophy and the foundations of all that is. Have I lost you yet? If so, I guess you are not here to answer that question.

For whom am I writing this blog? Mostly for myself, but anyone who might enjoy it or be inspired or provoked or who might benefit from my thoughts is welcome. Writing is fun but so much more fun when shared with others.

Here’s something about me you should know. I work as a technical writer for a software company, a job that requires much stretching to call “fun.” But this job has its moments and it provides my bread and butter. I have looked into freelance opportunities for regular writing income: copywriting, business writing, web content writing, etc. — but none of those seemed like they would be much more fun than technical writing. Plus they would pay less. I have tried poverty and found I did not like it. I realized what I really want is to write what I feel like writing just for the joy and personal satisfaction. Of course it would be nice to get paid to write what I feel like writing but when it comes to my “real” writing, money cannot be my primary motivation.

So welcome 2018. I fully expect you to be a groundbreaking, watershed of a year, both for the world at large and for me personally. I will strive to live all 365 of your days as fully, mindfully, and productively as I can. But listen 2018, I will not be railroaded into making productivity the measure of my success. Productivity cannot come before paying attention to people, being kind, and being mindful of God and what is happening in this world. So I will do my part 2018, but I expect you to respect my limits as a human being. Do not rush me and do not rush by. Take your time 2018.

Let’s refuse to kill other people even if a bunch of war-hungry Senators tell us to

We have gotten dragged into several wars this century, all of them pretty much disasters — for everyone except for those who got rich off of them. If you think the next war is going to solve our problems and rid the world of all the bad guys – well I know of a girl named Lucy Van Pelt who will hold a football and let you run up and kick it.

Let’s not follow along with any more war schemes. Let’s all refuse to kill any other human no matter what okay? Any Senators who want a war can go fight it themselves. 

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Herman Goering, one of Hitler’s generals, was interviewed by a reporter named Gilbert while he was in prison:

“Goering: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece.

​Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Goering: Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

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I found this quote in an article on Ron Paul’s Liberty Report website: http://www.ronpaullibertyreport.com/archives/what-are-we-being-dragged-into

On loving our enemies: Preliminary notes

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Painting by Briton Rivière

Just some preliminary notes for an essay I am working on about what it might mean to love one’s enemies. If you have thoughts on the subject or would like to share a response to the C.S. Lewis quote below, please leave a comment.

If you are a Christian you want to make every possible effort to follow Christ’s teaching concerning loving your enemies, a teaching closely associated with forgiving those who offend or do you harm. It’s one of the harder teachings and no one denies that it requires serious effort to master it. But even most of those who do not identify as Christian still claim to be anti-hatred. I would assume this means that if you do not want to be hated by others you see the inherent fairness of trying not to hate anybody else. It seems almost too simple to state, and yet every time I look at the news I can’t help but suspect that an awful lot of people do not understand the logic or have forgotten it or maybe have never given it much thought.

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, offers an interesting little self-test to see if we are even trying:

The real test is this. Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,” or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything—God and our friends and ourselves included—as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.