In the Gospel for this week (Matthew 5:38-48) Jesus refers to turning the other cheek, and other responses to personal attacks. It seems that the context is the particular honor/shame culture of the time. Emerson Powery sees this as referring to fair justice and non-violent resistance.
Susan was at a lab for blood work yesterday. She entered when the lab opened and began to be processed. Another woman entered within a minute and began complaining immediately. Susan thought the work was done well and timely, the other woman was pleased with nothing.
Jesus words were about responding to acts that were unjust. The experience of the complaining lab patron reminds me of a very common background noise today – almost anything that does not happen as one would like might be labeled an injustice to be righted.
I can even identify it in my own behavior. A mistake at a restaurant or someone who blocks me by driving too slow. When I reflect it is clear that mine are trivial.
In fact, I am a person of privilege. The things that sometimes bother me are not violations of my rights or dignity, but impositions on my closeted sense of privilege. (I can’t admit it, but I feel it intensely when thwarted.)
Perhaps instead of turning the other cheek for my bruised privilege, I could turn towards the other’s cheek. Maybe I could hear Jesus words as an invitation to attend to those who are really being attacked and lack standing in the community to find justice. Perhaps I could use my standing to help them seek resolution.