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By Donald W. Shriver

Our century has witnessed violence on an extraordinary scale, in wars that experience torn deep into the material of nationwide and overseas existence. And as we will be able to see within the contemporary strife in Bosnia, genocide in Rwanda, and the continued fight to manage nuclear weaponry, historical enmities proceed to threaten the lives of plenty of humans. As by no means prior to, the query is pressing and sensible: How can nations--or ethnic teams, or races--after lengthy, sour struggles, discover ways to stay part by means of part in peace? In An Ethic for Enemies, Donald W. Shriver, Jr., President Emeritus of Union Theological Seminary, argues that the answer lies in our means to forgive. Taking forgiveness out of its conventional unique organization with own faith and morality, Shriver urges us to acknowledge its significance within the secular political enviornment. the guts of the ebook examines 3 robust and relocating circumstances from fresh American history--our postwar dealings with Germany, with Japan, and our carrying on with family challenge with race relations--cases within which acts of forgiveness have had very important political outcomes. Shriver lines how postwar Germany, in its fight to wreck with its political previous, advanced from denial of a Nazi earlier, to a proper acknowledgement of the crimes of Nazi Germany, to offering fabric reimbursement for survivors of the Holocaust. He additionally examines the efforts of Japan and the USA, over the years and throughout obstacles of race and tradition, to forgive the wrongs dedicated through either peoples through the Pacific struggle. and eventually he deals a desirable dialogue of the position of forgiveness within the American civil rights stream. He exhibits, for example, that even Malcolm X well-known the necessity to circulation from contempt for the integrationist perfect to a extra conciliatory, repentant stance towards Civil Rights leaders. Malcolm got here to determine that basically via forgiveness may well the separate voices of the African-American circulation interact to accomplish their objectives. If mutual forgiveness used to be an intensive idea in 1964, Shriver reminds us that it has but to be learned in 1994. "We are a ways from ceasing to carry the sins of the ancestors opposed to their dwelling children," he writes. but during this poignant quantity, we find how, by means of forgiving, enemies can growth and feature stepped forward towards peace. A well timed antidote to contemporary political conflicts, An Ethic for Enemies demanding situations to us to confront the hatreds that cripple society and threaten to spoil the worldwide village.

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As future chapters of the Book of Exodus will make clear, law, morals, regulation, and political structure have as their overriding purpose the "blessing" of the world. They are not ends in themselves, just as the forgiveness of evildoers is not an end in itself but a means toward the blessedness of renewed community. There is something profoundly ''utilitarian" in the spirit and substance of theology and morality here, but the utilitarianism has its home in the life of a society in whose good its members find their individual good.

The law codes of the Hebrew Bible mandate "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," but with the understood qualifier, only an eye for an eye, thus putting a limit upon human impulses toward measureless revenge (Ex. 21:24). But these same codes mandated capital punishment, making it all the more remarkable that, in exact retaliation for the murder of his brother, God does not impose death upon this "first" murderer. Instead, assuming that his fellow humans will speedily seek the death of Cain, God puts a mark on his forehead in order to warn off any human neighbor who dares to take vengeance into his or her hands.

So now there comes a reckoning for his blood" (42:21-22). Overcome by a mixture of memories and emotions, the still unrecognized brother bolts from the room in tears. 20] page_26 < previous page page_26 next page > Page 26 Mistrust in this family runs long and deep. Joseph insists that one of his brothers, Simeon, be jailed as security for the return of the others with Benjamin. But astonishing good fortune accompanies them: to full sacks of grain Joseph has ordered added the money they paid for the grain.

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