Nehemiah 1-3; Romans 12

Romans 12:17-21 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all. Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.”  Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.

These words of Paul – direction for our personal lives – led me to a wistful reflection on American foreign policy.  What would be the fruits of it if this was the “mission, vision, and values”?  I have two sons currently stationed in South Korea with the Army, so these are not casual thoughts.  We use economic sanctions against our enemies, but I just see Kim Jong-un getting fatter while the people of North Korea starve.  The vast majority of Cubans lived in poverty while Castro was a billionaire.  The common people of these countries suffer intensely while their leadership lives the good life, despite our sanctions.  I guess the theory is this will motivate the people to rise up and throw off their chains, but I can’t think of anyplace it is working towards that.  The North Korean people hate us more than ever, and they are educated to feel that way.  I’m not naïve enough to advocate such policies thinking they might come to pass; even entertaining such whimsy may be naïve: e.g. if we were “nice” to these regimes the next thing you know North Koreans, Cubans, and Russians are flooding Disneyworld and Epcot, wearing Bermuda shorts with black socks and badgering us to pose for pictures…and nobody wants that.

Our personal lives are a much easier call.  A lot of our grudges are petty, if you admit it.  It wouldn’t kill me at my 45th high school reunion to be friendly to that dumb jock who stuffed me into a gym locker in 1970, and only fantasize about slipping a roofie in his punch and later that evening having Tweetie Bird tattooed on one side of his face and Sylvester the Cat on the other.  Imagination: it’s one of the things that separate us from the animals.

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