A Gentle Answer

Forgive thy brother

Not much needs to be said about this painting. It is self-explanatory. I identify with both figures—the one with the arrows in the back and the one with the bow. How about you?

I am currently reading a book, A Gentle Answer: Our “Secret Weapon” in an Age of Us Against Them by Scott Sauls. In it, he tells the story of Saturday Night Live comedian Peter Davidson, who crudely mocked Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw because he was wearing an eye patch. The mockery of Crenshaw’s combat-inflicted disability and disdain for Davidson’s political views resulted in a strong backlash against Davidson and he fell into a deep depression. He wrote in an Instagram post, “I really don’t want to be on this earth anymore. I’m doing my best to stay here for you but I actually don’t know how much longer I can last.”

Some may have expected Crenshaw to take pleasure in Davidson’s demise. He brought it on himself, after all. Crenshaw could have added to the backlash or ignored Davidson all together. Instead, the veteran privately reached out to befriend, encourage, and speak life-giving words to Davidson. Instead of shooting arrows back at Davidson, Crenshaw spoke words of peace, forgiveness, and grace.

Moved by compassion for the pain that Davidson had brought upon himself at Crenshaw’s expense, the man trained in military strike and defense offered a gentle answer. On Veteran’s Day weekend, the two men came face-to-face on Saturday Night Live to make amends. At the end of the segment, when he thought he was off-camera, the comedian leaned over to Crenshaw and whispered, “You’re a good man.”

Being Human connection: When we are offended, do we strike back, or do we extend kindness? Do we seek to understand or only to be understood? Jesus loved us at our worst so that we can love others at their worst. Jesus offered a gentle answer when we deserved retaliation and rejection. Think of how different the world would be if we could become the kind of people who offer a gentle answer to everyone, even those we disagree with or who have hurt us.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” ~Matthew 5:43-44

Featured artwork: Scott Erickson, Forgive Thy Brother, 2017, © Scott Erickson artist

Featured book: Sauls, Scott. A Gentle Answer: Our “Secret Weapon” in an Age of Us Against Them, Nelson Books, 2020