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Twelve Steps to A Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong

Step 12, Part One – Love Your Enemies

“Love Your Enemies”.  I have remained in contemplation with these words, “Love Your Enemies” for a long time.  I searched for what it is saying to me.  This reply came – they are your sisters and brothers.  My reflection continued as I pondered that those whom I may consider enemies are my sisters and brothers just as those whom I love and care about.      

“Love Your Enemies” invited me into soul searching Scripture (the Bible).  The words quickly came, “You must love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31) which is the second great commandment of Jesus.  Then followed “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34). 

St. Paul the Apostle described love to the Corinthian Community: “Love is patient; love is kind.  Love is not jealous, and it is not conceited; it is never rude or self-seeking; it is not prone to anger, nor does it brood over injuries.  Love doesn’t rejoice in what is wrong, but rejoices in the truth.  There is no limit to loves forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure.” 

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Now I reflect: What is my relationship with “Love Your Enemies.”  As I contemplate my long life, I am aware that love and hate have existed within me.  In all I do, I need to remember that those I considered enemies have also experienced similar pain and anger that caused my failure to love.  How can I make a place for everyone in my life, a place of mutual healing and compassion?  

During a Meditation on Loving Kindness I identified an enemy.  I identified an enemy as one who harms the lives of children.  Then I asked the question: Am I doing anything that harms the lives of children?  The meditation called me forth to engage in compassionate healing of children, of myself and others. 

So I leave this reflection with the consciousness that we are at the end of the book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, but we are at a new beginning of living more compassionately the Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.