Over the past several days, I have been watching History Channel’s Hatfields & McCoys. According to history, the Hatfield and McCoy feud ran twenty-eight (28) years, from 1863 to 1891.  In the end, many of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s lost family members: fathers, sons, daughters and grandchildren.  There are two themes that seem so very important: forgiveness and the misrepresentation of the Bible.

First, the oncoming train wreck could have been avoided if just one side learned to turn the other cheek.  Rather, ego and hate burnt each of the families till nothing was left.  This was too evident when Nancy McCoy exclaimed to Roseanna, “I did it all for hate” and “Devil” Anse Hatfield almost killed his son during a disguised fishing trip.

The second theme, is misquoting the Bible.  I always find it very interesting when a character like Randolph “Ole Ran’l” McCoy prays for vengeance against the infidel’s (was this actually a word in the old west?) yet neglecting everything about forgiveness and turning the other cheek. What happened to Matthew 5:24, “Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift?

Certainly I can relate to vengeance.  About fifteen (15) years ago I too wished someone to experience crushing defeat.  I prayed about it, often and hard.  But the very act of praying for this absorbed a ton of physical energy.  And, I find it so ironic how hard I prayed for great misery then, but requested great forgiveness and reconciliation some thirteen (13) years later.  In the end, I received neither.

Still, someone has to let go. If the cycle of hatred does not stop, it continues from generation to generation. Technically we are born innocent, but are taught hate.  As the character Connor MacLeod (Highlander) so eloquently phrased it, Life brings hope and pain, but revenge never brings redemption.” That’s pretty darn Buddhist. We should all remember that.