Slaps, Maths and Making the World Better

Today, I was commuting to office via BRTS. As usual, the bus was crowded, especially near the door. I don’t know why but there seems to be some type of strange force at work in the BRTS because people to gather right next to the door even if the rest of the bus is empty. As the bus came near the stand, the people were queuing up to leave because the bus was nearing their destination. And as I was watching people struggle to reach near the door, there seemed to be some sort of quarrel between the two that were standing right next to the door. The guy who was standing right next to the door, was just standing there. He was yet waiting for his destination, yet he had the brilliant idea of standing next to the door and getting in the way of people coming in and leaving.

As I watched, the person behind him suggested that he should go into the back of the bus if he wasn’t going to leave the bus on the next stand. The guy replied, “I will.” And then stood right there for about 10 seconds ignoring what the other person suggested. Which angered the guy standing right behind him, and he pushed him aside and tried to take the first spot right near the door. And as Newton’s third law of motion states, “When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.” And in about 30 seconds, they were exchanging slaps and pulling each others cloths. One guy’s shirt got ripped off. And even though, one of the guy’s destination had already come and the bus had come to a standstill, he wasn’t leaving. In fact, he continued and when people pushed him out of the bus, he was still trying to get in to continue the fight. Fortunately, the driver quickly started the bus, leaving him on the bus stand with a rag of a shirt.

In the following moments I was thinking about the incident. About how it could’ve been avoided. In this case, there was no right or wrong, both guys were at fault. But still, things didn’t get out of hand until one of the guys slapped the other one. That’s when the whole situation went south. And at that moment, I remembered what Jesus said, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.” The situation would’ve been very different if one of the guy had exercised this simple statement. In fact, the fight would’ve never gotten started if there was a real christian among them. If I was one of them, what would I have done? In this simple situation, the answers are very simple. However, in a situation where it’s not in our power to hold or contain evil, what would we do? In a situation where we are being wronged, and we have no power to stop it, what would be the correct response?

Due to our fallen nature, we are easily provoked. And in our anger, we do irrational things. We do things that are completely against what bible teaches. And sometimes we just ignore it saying that it’s unrealistic. I mean, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also” Seriously? That would make me look like a fool! Well, maybe it will. And there can be many arguments and counter-arguments about the practicality of the stated instruction. However, I’d like to present one simple argument that proves it’s practicality.

But before the argument, comes the assumptions. The assumption of this argument is, “The end goal is the betterment of the world”. Let’s look at the argument.

  • At the beginning of the world, the amount of evil done in the world is 0.
  • At a point in time when you are wronged, the amount of evil things done in the world is e.
  • If you react to evil by doing something evil then after the act, the total amount of the evil done in the world would be e + 1. (1 is you!)
  • Now, suppose if we take two points in time, suppose the beginning of 2013 and 2014, and note down the total amount of evil done up until that time, and call it e(2013) and e(2014)
  • Now if we want to find out the amount of evil done in 2013, it would be (delta)e = e(2014) – e(2013)
  • Here, (delta)e represents the total amount of evil done in 2013 year.
  • Now, the 2013 would be an ideal year if there is no evil done in 2013. Consequently, (delta)e would be 0.
  • So, to improve the world, we need to reduce the value of (delta)e. If it reaches zero, we’ll be living in a heaven on earth.
  • Is it possible for (delta)e for a whole year to reach zero? Possible? Yes. Likely? No. So, the only option for us Christians is to reduce the amount of (delta)e as much as possible and make it as close to 0 as possible. How, for one, by not doing evil ourselves and by sharing the gospel to other people so they too can get out of the cycle of evil.

A few observations in the scenario above:

  1. e(2013) is certainly not zero. What it means is, something bad has already happened to many people for which other people are responsible. Someone has already slapped the victim. (Note here that I’m using slap as a metaphor for evil things done. I’m aware that there are certain kinds of slaps that are necessary and even well deserved. I’m not talking about that kinds of slaps) Now the victim can either slap back or turn the other cheek.
  2. In scenario A, a person slaps back. Then the original slapper slaps back. And the slapping cycle continues ad infinitum.
  3. In scenario B, if a person turns the other cheek, there might be another slap coming. And the one after that, and after that and after that… but somewhere it will stop. It will certainly stop. The cycle of evil stops. (Not to mention, the armies of heaven will be gunning for the slapper! And soon he’ll turn from one of them to one of us! More power to Christians in making the world better!)

There it is. A practical, (no-nonsense) mathematical proof of Jesus’ simple statement. Practicality is subjective to the end goal. And if your end goal is betterment of the world by sharing the gospel, then who says it isn’t practical? Anyone?

7 Replies to “Slaps, Maths and Making the World Better”

  1. Stop the slap cycle! Well said Noel!
    But what if the original slapper continues on with the second cheek, then again the first one and then again the second cheek and ultimately, original slapper gets into a loop?

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