No Looking Back
Hildegard Goss-Mayr (born in 1930) is an Austrian antiwar activist and Christian theologian. Since the 1950s, Hildegard has circumnavigated the globe teaching the methodology of non-violence. She was the honorary president of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and she narrated this true story.
In the midst of tragic fighting in Lebanon in the 1970s, a Christian seminary student was walking from one village to the next when he was ambushed by an armed Druze guerrilla fighter. The Druze ordered his captive down a mountain trail where he was to be shot. But an amazing thing happened. The seminarian, who had also received military training, was able to surprise his captor and disarm him. Now, the table was turned, and now it was the Druze who was ordered down the trail.
As they walked, however, the student of theology began to reflect on what was happening. Recalling the words of Jesus, “Love your enemies,” “do good to those who hate you,” “turn the other cheek,” he found he could go no further. He threw the gun into the bushes, told the Druze he was free to go and turned back up the hill. Minutes later, he heard footsteps running behind him as he walked. “Is this the end after all?” he wondered. Perhaps the young man had retrieved his weapon and meant to finish him off. But he continued on, never glancing back, until his enemy reached him, only to grab him in an embrace and pour out thanks for sparing his life.
The quality of mercy and forgiveness is such that, as Shakespeare says in Merchant of Venice, “it is twice blessed”. It blesses the giver as well as the receiver. Violence, on the other hand begets hatred and violence. Imagine for yourself the net result, a world filled with hatred and violence all around.
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