Sunday, September 10
Sunday, September 10, 2006
It always helps to denounce terrorism as much as one denounces the injustices which made terrorism appealing to the victimized, or vice-versa wherever one tends to emphasize one over the other. If one excuses terrorism as a "mere product of oppression", it tends to muddy the waters and make progress impossible. Even the Palestinian Christians I talk to (and you know how much Christians respect the teachings of Jesus on nonviolence... or not, depending on the Christian) shockingly often minimize the damage to the peace process done by suicide bombings and Iran's interference through Hezbollah. Granted, Palestinians deal with signs of the occupation daily, while Hezbollah is more known in the Arab world for their integrity and charity, with suicide bombings seen as a red herring used by the pro-Israeli side to minimize the suffering of Palestinians. But only a strong condemnation of suicide bombings by Arabs and Muslims will make peace possible. Israel has to take steps too. One side's obligations are never washed away by the other side's mistakes. It's easy for one side to focus on what the other side must do in order for peace to happen, harder for either side to confront its own inner demons and inconsistencies. Easier to teach virtue than to practice it... that's human nature, and to some extent, all sides will have to overcome human nature and cultural programming in order to survive.
If there's no communication, there is no way to change another party's behavior, and if one does not hear, one cannot be heard. From what I've observed this far, nobody on any side is all that great at hearing the others. They have their notions of what justice requires, and for some reason justice always seems to require more of the others than people require of themselves. Nobody wants to sacrifice pride, security or control first.
Even in my own world, where there is no violence that doesn't come through media, I find it hard to weed out my own inconsistencies than to see them in others. But I believe it's that inner work that makes it possible to judge outer conflicts in a way that each party is willing to listen and compromise. The more people in the world who recognize their own light and dark qualities, the more there will be a platform for peace, as opposed to simple denunciations of warring parties. Until then, we'll play out the "good against evil" myth with more and more destructive consequences. At some point, all sides will have to turn against extremism on their own side and withdraw the silence, excuses or support given to flamethrowers who have nothing to gain from peace and who compete to punish the enemy without regard for the consequences falling on everybody else's head.
It's so much more useful to condemn actions without regard to who is doing what, and to praise any move made by any side toward peace. It may help to shun a group in order to give more moderate groups the political advantage, but we seem to focus so much on who is wrong or right and so little on what actions should be praised or denounced no matter who carries them out.