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My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Tuesday, November 15

The Power of Evil (Comment on Turning the Other Cheek)

Sherilyn said...
My understanding of the "Turn the other cheek" passage is that it is about not allowing evil to have control over you. If some one asks you for your shirt and you give him your coat too, you have taken control over the situation through charitable will and you have not accepted evil to have power over you.

It's interesting to me that the comment seems to be more focused on the person turning the other cheek (cheeker). I had been thinking almost entirely about the person to whom the other cheek is turned (cheekee).

My initial reaction to the comment, while focused on the cheekee, was that it essentially aided evil. Now instead of the "evil" person having a shirt, he has a coat AND he has approval and support for his wrongdoing.

However, I misread it. I was thinking that it was a person who took your shirt. If someone asks, then the meaning is changed significantly. It has more to do with being generous. I'm not sure if this was what was intended originally. I suppose it doesn't much matter. What matters is understanding the best way to be. The idea of generosity strikes me as perhaps more important than the particular wording.

Being generous with a person who is hurting you can have varying effects. It could encourage them to continue harming you and others since it seems to bring them acceptable results. It could encourage them to follow your example and be generous themselves. It could result in a mixed reaction - a person who continues to be "greedy" and also sometimes generous.

It depends on the individual. If one is dealing with a random stranger, then maybe it is right to give the person the benefit of the doubt and treat him generously. Some people, though, seem unresponsive to generosity.

It has been suggested to me that perhaps such a person "needs" more (generosity). How do you tell whether a person needs more or "needs" some other kind of help? What if they need more than you have to give?

I like the idea of not letting evil have control over you, but it strikes me as being a bit self-centered and "prideful" (often considered to be undesireable moral traits). "It doesn't matter what the other person does, I will be good." So? What of it? Doesn't one deserve to feel good about being good? Or does it take the focus off connecting with and helping someone else? Maybe what helps isn't always generosity?

Ah well. I can see I'm not going to come to conclusions about this just yet.

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