If you’ve ever been the target of bullying, religious persecution or maltreatment of any type, you’ve likely had to make an important decision: sink to the level of the aggressor or rise above the attack.
When faced with such an emotionally charged decision, the most common reactions are to 1) lash out in an attempt to avenge the indignity or 2) wallow in victimization. While striking back is not commonly recognized as sinking to the level of your aggressor, it is easy to see how both of these reactive approaches lead quickly to a compromise of your integrity and dignity. If you are compelled to think or act in a way that is beneath you out of reaction to an affront, you have sold yourself short. You are better than that but you have to prove it in the heat of the moment.
Rising above the attack is not a matter of ignoring it or turning a blind eye, instead, it is a matter of bringing love to focus in relation to those who seek to offend you or do you harm. Realizing that true love is never blind and wisdom is primarily a matter of the heart, you come to terms with the fact that you cannot choose the wise approach if your heart is troubled as a result of having taken offense to something offensive. (Take note that this one point trips up more earnestly good people than just about any other. It is the crucible of whether or not you have truly overcome the judgment of which it was written: “Judge not that ye be not judged”).
That said, the righteous course of action may involve a powerful defense or a swift and decisive offense. Love is a purifying force; that which is consistent with its nature is not consumed by it while that which is opposed to it is ultimately consumed in its presence. Love, as a good upbringing will show, can come clothed as a hug or a swift kick in the rear.
The novitiate must resist the temptation to perfect his pattern of action and seek instead to concentrate his attention on the pattern of underlying orientation. Being clear about what is motivating you in the heat of the moment is more important than worrying about how you will respond. When you are correct with your motivation, the best course of action will make itself known.
If your heart is truly anchored in love, it cannot be unmoored by hate. Choose ye well!