Out of all the answers Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter gave interviewer Kori Street, it was the ones about hope that were most moving. Recordings of his responses to hundreds of questions are now computer indexed for quick selection. An artificial intelligence program called a Chat Bot can simulate a real-time conversation, almost as if he were there.
He spoke of the dehumanization, which allowed perpetrators to murder his family and how we can resist repeating that awful history. Then the interview turned to the topic of empathy and the perpetrators.
It reminded me of my great desire to stop the next cycle of violence that I fear may befall my beloved country. And it reminds me of the Gospel of John’s account of Jesus’ response to the disciple Peter cutting off the ear of a soldier who was performing the arrest.
“Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away!
Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’”
We all have a choice. When we feel the deep fear of our lifestyle being threatened, we can recite the dehumanizing words of hate toward those who are being scapegoated. That might lead to us reacting with violence, especially if we recite them day after day and month after month.
Or we can choose the path of empathy with all, including (and perhaps especially) those labeled as our enemy. Jesus did it on the way to the cross. God answered his unjust state execution by reversing it — replacing it with the resurrection. Jesus invites us all: “Follow me.”
As for me and my house, we will trust the Lord.
Pastor Mike Krewson