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This post’s inspo came from my friend Philo, a Canadian lawyer who recently moved to the States and studied to become a lawyer here. He joked about how he debates with his professors here in the States about how the American system stinks. So I asked him, what’s the difference? He mentioned how it’s more about the lawyers from both sides coming to an agreement in Canada. Whereas here in the States, it’s more adversarial, meaning that each lawyer will do whatever they can to attain whatever the client wants. And I paused for a second and thought, this is more telling about the cultural differences. He also mentioned how polarized politics are and passing laws can be complicated because a law was introduced by either a conservative or liberal.
This is by no means a political post, nor do I even have that much interest in getting into politics. But during Holy Week, it’s interesting because, on the Eve of Good Friday, we will read about how St. Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus when the Temple guards came to arrest Christ. In a sense, St. Peter was behaving in a very adversarial manner. At times we can engage in this type of behavior. Yeah, you may not have cut off a person’s ear, or have you? But there are plenty of times when you’ve been adversarial to a certain extent. When you think about it, every time you’re defensive, myself, first and foremost, we are, in a way, being adversarial. When you look at the definition of adversarial, it’s pretty eye-opening. To be adversarial means to assume, presume, presuppose that this other person is in opposition to me. When you think about culture, even in driving, how often does road rage happen? It’s because we’re assuming others are our “enemy,” and that’s with a stranger, but what about those closest to us? How often do we get into this “attack-attack” mode because we assume this other person is somehow “out to get me”? Usually, we feel the other person is “out to get me” because we feel anger.
This year, something to take away from Holy Week is that even when Christ was met with people who saw Him as adversarial, He, in His all-lovingness, allowed Himself to be led to the cross as a sheep led to its shearer. I need to ask myself, how am I being adversarial with others? Moreover, when others are adversarial with me, am I using that as an excuse to make them out to be adversarial or to become defensive? If you think about it, I’m sure you may have gotten into a fight with someone, and then you ask yourself, “what are we even fighting about?” So many times, we make mountains out of molehills because we come from this adversarial point of view.
Interestingly, we have this adversarial stance as a culture because, on an individual basis, this can come from past traumas or hurts. Because the people closest to us may have been the people who hurt us, we turn everyone and anything into our adversary when people are just human. And I think this is why Christ, our Creator, was able to submit to the cross because He knows that we are weak and feeble as humans. Someone once told me that the two things you need to make any relationship work are love and forgiveness when you get to the bottom of it. Love and forgiveness are what we see Christ doing during this week and ultimately on the cross; His love and His forgiveness! As humans, we are going to make a whole lot of mistakes and, therefore, will need a lot of forgiveness. So as to not repeat the error of the unmerciful servant who didn’t forgive, although his master forgave him, let us remember that as C.S. Lewis said, “to be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”