He had done an excellent job explaining his “View.” He was plugging a new book.

Over the years I had enjoyed his commentary and appearances on television, as he invites a bit of grace and “courtly” into the American thoroughfare of thought.

The segment was winding down when he was asked a question about a recent retaliation a Congresswoman had proffered toward one of her enemies. I saw his countenance change. Suddenly, he appeared beleaguered. Perhaps merely pursuing kindness had left him in despair, causing him to look for more aggressive weapons to address all the surrounding demons.

He replied, “I know we’re supposed to turn the other cheek. That’s what Jesus said. But there’s a reason there’s only one Jesus.”

I stalled. There was a grumbling of approval from the audience, but I did sense that many of them, like me, were hoping that the words “turn the other cheek” had great validity–considering the fact that the alternative offers nothing but disaster.

When has retaliation afforded any lasting effect? Certainly all despots and murderous dictators have to eventually be ousted from power, but it does not keep them from coming back.

We need a more permanent solution.

We need to know that in the midst of making progress, we are actually progressing.

It would be absolutely divine to sense that God is with us. Can we take a moment to take a look at “turn the other cheek?”

The law of that day (and also our day) was “an eye for an eye.” So “turn the other cheek” was a clever way of explaining the process of losing your eye.

It begins with a hit to your face. No one is going to extract your eye without striking you. It is unlikely that the first blow will dislodge your peeper. So it offers the quandary:

Shall I fight back and lose an eye, or maybe die, or end up doing the kill against my will?

At this moment, the reasonable nature of a survivor needs to kick in to provide the possibility for sustaining life. Without this, something will be lost.

Every time two people fight, there are casualties on both sides. No one has been able to come up with a “clean war”–or even an argument free of damage.

And the question is, how many times can we be damaged before we’re beyond repair? And long before we’re beyond repair, are we not without faith?

Turning the other cheek is not a noble concept, lived out by an itinerant Nazarene minister two thousand years ago. It is the clever, intelligent, intuitive and revelatory approach to avoid losing your eye or being forced into extracting life from another.

Whether we like it or not, once we kill, we are murderers. Once we damage, we are destroyers.

The thing my brother failed to realize is that even though turning the other cheek demands that I use much more of my intellect than I would tapping my baboon instincts, those jungle antics always leave some creature dead.

A slap on the cheek is the beginning of an attempt to squash your eye.

You can either retaliate and hope that you are stronger, or, as you bleed out on the ground from your head, wonder if it might not have been better to interrupt the process by turning the other cheek–to buy time for more reasonable negotiations to be considered.

Published by Jonathan Cring