Love Your Enemies

I’m sure we all know about Alec Baldwin’s meltdown on an American Airlines flight last week.  Now, because of that, the American Airlines flight attendants union is attempting to have Baldwin’s show, 30 Rock, banned from any AA flights.  Now, you might be wondering what any of this has to do with my normal fare, but the title of this piece should give you a hint.  It comes from Luke 6:27-29:

27 “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either.

Saying these verses are familiar to us is a bit of an understatement.  Unfortunately, it seems we have a case of familiarity breeding contempt.  I realize accusing anyone of having contempt for the words of Jesus may be inflammatory, but what else could we call our culture’s refusal to let anything go?  This incident with Baldwin and American Airlines provides an opportunity to look at the way we deal with others, be they individuals or groups

Since this story has been all over the news, I’m not going to break it down here.  The fact is, Baldwin reacted in a childish manner to a reasonable request.  Even worse, he went on Twitter and made disparaging remarks about all the flight attendants employed by American and did it again in an “apology” on Huffington Post.  American has a different take on the incident.  Given his history of volatile behavior, I’m inclined to believe the airlines version over Baldwin’s self-serving non-apology apology.  But, was he right?  Does the fact that he felt singled out justify his behavior?  In a word, no.  I can’t think of any situation that would justify a 53-year-old man acting like a 5-year-old boy.  But, even though he behaved like a giant douche, the attempt of the flight attendants union to get the airlines to stop showing 30 Rock isn’t much better.  Imagine how it would look if they displayed a little grace and forgave the man for his outburst.  Instead, they both come off as a bunch of petulant children.

You may think this is just another story about someone not getting their way, but it’s not.  How often do any of us live by the words Jesus spoke about forgiveness and dealing with persecution?  As individuals and as a nation, we continually fall short.  In response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, we went to war; a war that has claimed the lives of over a million innocent civilians, almost 8000 Coalition soldiers and an untold number of enemy combatants; we have held people indefinitely without trial; we have either tortured or sanctioned torture and we have persecuted innocents. Those actions do not live up to the words of Jesus who told us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us.  As He was dying on the cross, Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing“, but we can’t forgive the rantings of a pampered star.  Doesn’t speak well of us, does it?