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Building Bridges: Love your enemies
February 13, 2014 Kay Grote   

Read more by Kay Grote
Sometimes I am burdened to write something I donít want to, something that is not comfortable and I know others will oppose. Now is such a time. There will be some people who will grant me no peace for the words Iím called to write. But I know I will have no peace until I do.

Last Tuesday, after four months of careful preparation and agonizing wait, the case of Gering senior Isaiah Wilson, whose vehicle was targeted with a racial epithet by classmate Alysha Schwartzkopf, was dismissed. A technicality of state statute dashed the hopes of justice and closure for Isaiah Wilson, his family, many friends and supporters.

Please understand, this column is not an attempt to prolong the issue. It is not an attempt to further accuse the alleged guilty or further elevate the innocent. It is not an attempt to sell more newspapers. It is an attempt to raise the consciousness of our community that we all bear a responsibility in rising above bigotry, racism, ignorance and hatred.

A failed verdict and a flawed statute in the case left the community wondering what to do. A judgeís job is to interpret the law. With a flawed law, a judge has little else he can do. Anger and the pointing toward injustice are normal reactions. But Iím moved to caution in this column, donít let the anger at the outcome lead to more hate. Remember, alleged hatred and the use of defiling language against another human being was initially the core of this case. Holding on to anger begins a slippery slope that if left unchecked, will eventually bring us full circle back to into its ugly clutches. The real challenge now becomes loving our enemies.

Love our enemies? Many will scoff. That is the hardest, most ridiculous, most humanly unnatural thing we are ever called to do. And yet showing love to an enemy it is the most crucial, most freeing and ultimately, the only option we have to overcome evil. Hereís proof:

ďBut to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

ďIf you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.Ē Luke 6:27-36.

Love your enemies. I didnít say it. Jesus didómany, many timesóso take your arguments up with Him.

In the meantime, hereís what we as parents, friends and a united community can do. Teach our children to confess, control and contain their rotten thoughts and evil desires. Teach our boys to be honorable and not dare girls or impressionable peers to do evil, which in this case includes touching and defacing property that is not theirs, speaking in profane and corrupt ways or tempting others into sinful acts. Deal immediately with your wrongdoings. A gut-checked, heart-aligned apology is one of the most powerful weapons against corrupt deeds. But remember, so is forgiveness.

We are all blessed to live in this very generous community, which rallies when a cause is raised. I encourage you, if you are so inclined, to give to the Isaiah Wilson WINS scholarship fund. He, like all our youth, deserve the freedom to pursue an education to become productive, responsible and contributing adults. But I also encourage you to follow the commission that was given to all who call themselves Christiansó love your enemies. That means praying for the accused. Alysha is a young person with a future, too. And at this time, love will do her more good than hate.
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