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Archive for August 12th, 2018

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While watching the news, a few days ago, I learned of a man who died. It was not his age of ninety-six that caught my attention, or that he was a speaker to organizations and to youth for thirty years, or that he came to find home in Newfoundland in 1946.

What caught my attention was something he had said,

“Don’t you ever hate anybody.
By love, you conquer the world.
By hate, you’ll only destroy the world
and you destroy yourself,”

More than platitudes, these were the real-life, words of Philip Riteman … a Jew born in Poland, captured by the Nazis, imprisoned in Auschwitz, Birkenau and Dachau. In 1945 he was liberated, freed by American forces, weighing only seventy-five pounds. In 1946 he found “humanity” in Newfoundland, and in 1979 made his home in Halifax, after expanding his import business there.

One would think that, if anyone does, he had good reason to hate (having lost all of his immediate and over eighteen of his extended family to the Nazis). But, this man who was so dramatically affected, in every conceivable way, by hatred, spent (at least) his final thirty years teaching people to conquer the world with love.

Love is a powerful force, but to have the ability, as a victim of brutality, to choose love?

Mr. Riteman knew that his survival, after his liberation, was because he chose to focus on something stronger, something more beneficial to himself, something that could indeed conquer a world of hatred.

He, of course, is not the only one in history to know about the power of love over hatred.

The Apostle Paul, in 1 John 2:9-12, also speaks of love and hate, in terms of light and darkness:

“Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.

I remind you, my dear children: Your sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name.” 

He gives us the comparison of hatred to the dark, love to light. And, like Mr. Riteman, Paul understood the force of hatred, for, in his previous life, he had lived in the darkness of hatred, killing the followers of Christ with the hope of eradicating the Earth of them … like the Nazi’s who did the same to the Jews. But, like Riteman, he learned that it is not hatred, but love that can conquer the world.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry said of Paul’s experiential learning, “it is the Lord Jesus that is the great Master of love: it is his school (his own church) that is the school of love. His disciples are the disciples of love, and his family must be the family of love.”

May we walk in the light of love, and enlighten our world to how it can keep us from destroying ourselves with hatred.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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