So Cheeks and I watched Les Miserables on video the other night. It’s a classic story and the most recent version done on video is very good. As I was watching the scene when Javert decides to drown himself, I realized one of many reasons to learn to love our enemies – so we don’t drown ourselves!
Here’s what he says in the song that made me think of this:
Da.ned if I’ll live in the debt of thief
Da.ned if I’ll yield at the end of the chase
I am the law and the law is not mocked
I’ll spit his pity right back in his face
There is nothing on Earth that we share
It is either Valjean or Javert!
In short, he can’t handle the fact that his enemy, Jean Valjean, loved him enough to help him in his time of need (Valjean gains permission to release him from behind enemy lines – he would have been most likely killed had Valjean not done this). He can’t stand this kindness so much that he decides to drown himself.
An article from Wikipedia explains the narrative this way:
“Javert wanders the streets in emotional turmoil: his mind simply cannot reconcile the image he had carried through the years of Valjean as a brutal ex-convict with his acts of kindness on the barricades. Now, Javert can be justified neither in letting Valjean go nor in arresting him. For the first time in his life, Javert is faced with the situation where he cannot act lawfully without acting immorally, and vice versa. Unable to find a solution to this dilemma, and horrified at the sudden realization that Valjean was simultaneously a criminal and a good person—a conundrum which made mockery of Javert’s entire system of moral values—Javert decides to resolve the dissonance by drowning in the river Seine; his body is later found.”
Here’s my point – Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies is for our own good. Whether we drown ourselves in an actual river or a metaphorical river, hate causes deep inner turmoil.
One of our goals at camp is to build a community of love each week, each summer and over the lifetime of the camp, with all who participate. This helps each of us learn to love those we otherwise might not get along with. In learning to love those hard to love, we become free from hate. Just one of the many things Jesus saves us from.