In 1985, there was a movie called “Witness” that starred Harrison Ford. It’s about a small Amish boy who witnesses a murder and Harrison Ford has to pretend to be Amish to protect him until the trial. It won a couple of Oscars and was nominated for five more. In it are some really good scenes, but the one that has stayed with me for over thirty years is one that is just called “Right of Way” on YouTube. YouTube does not show the whole scene because it leaves off the powerful line that ends it. Some city boys harass the Amish in their horse-drawn cart and one pushes ice cream in the face of one of the young Amish men. Harrison Ford, as a big-city cop, finally just can’t stand it and gets down and beats up the young thug. The part of the scene that gets left out in the YouTube clip (of course you could watch the whole movie—it has a good message but it is violent) is the ending of the scene with the young thug with his face beaten and bloody, barely standing, and Harrison Ford, untouched but breathing heavily and still angry, and the young Amish man who had the ice cream pushed in his face, leans down to Harrison Ford and says, “Who won?” The message is clear, violence is not the way and the Amish know that. I can’t think of any scene in any other movie that makes that point as well as this one. Most of us identify with the Harrison Ford character—we want to show the bully who’s boss, but it is not WWJD (what would Jesus do). Christ told us not to return evil for evil, but to turn the other cheek and to walk the extra mile. It’s hard, I know, but if you watch that scene in “Witness” you know who won, and it wasn’t Harrison Ford.
Gandhi has said, and it is true that “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” We simply must not allow evil to fill us with so much hate that we want to hurt or kill others. Can you imagine standing at the Pearly Gates with St. Peter asking you about your hatred and violence? Those are questions I don’t want to answer. A very wise man (Mev Puleo) interpreted Jesus’s message to mean that “ . . . we must first recognize that the very person who is our oppressor is also our brother or sister. One day he or she may stop being our oppressor, but they'll never stop being our brother or sister.” When we hate, when we kill, the thing that dies is our heart, the part of us where Christ wants to dwell. Hatred will drive Him out of your heart and out of your life. He has told us that if we abide in Him and He in us, whatever we ask in His name will be given unto us. The fly in that ointment is that Christ cannot abide in a heart filled with hate that embraces violence and wishes it on others. God is love. Christ’s one great commandment to us was to love each other as He loved us, and He loved us enough to die for us. We simply must love and drive hate and violence back into the darkness with the light that comes from the love that we show each other, those who differ from us, and other of God’s children whom we do not yet know. Christ taught and practiced love and forgiveness, never hatred or violence. How can we do otherwise and call ourselves Christians? We need to set an example for those around us so that all will know that we are Christians by our love.