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Is Talking to Enemies Okay?

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Can the people of the Earth ever, and finally, get along? What could cause them to do so, at last? These questions linger today following news that we apparently can't even talk to each other. At least, in some instances. In one case, the United States and Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has just said that his nation would not even discuss its disputed nuclear program when it is being placed under severe pressure of the U.S. to do so. (The U.S. has applied economic sanctions on Iran that have reportedly caused Iran's oil income to drop by nearly half.)

The U.S., in turn, says that such pressure is necessary to let Iran know the United States means business in its determination to stop Iran from developing offensive nuclear weapons. U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden has said that America is willing to negotiate with Iran regarding its nuclear program, but that any offer from Iran to do so "must be real and tangible." Some factions within the current U.S. politisphere do not want U.S. President Barack Obama to even go as far as talking about it. No talks directly with Iran, they say. They call this appeasement, and label it not being "tough" on U.S. enemies.

Most (but, of course, not all) of those in the U.S. who say this are political and religious conservatives -- many of them the same people who declare that they follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Yet it was Christ who said, "Love your enemies, and do them good, and lend, never despairing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High: for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil." Might it be considered politically okay to follow the teachings of Christ?

And the theology of today's contemporary spirituality invites us to consider a remarkable statement: No one does anything inappropriate, given their model of the world. Therefore, our opportunity is to look closely at the world model that those who we imagine to be our enemies are holding as their truth about life and God and other human beings.

Contemporary spirituality also dares us to ask those we imagine to be our enemies this remarkable question: What hurts you so bad that you feel you have to hurt me in order to heal it?

Yet should this be called "daring" political dialogue? Aren't politics our spirituality, demonstrated? If our politics are not a demonstration of our highest spiritual values, our politics are bankrupt.

Is this not so?