It could be said that the greatest atrocities in our history are products of misinformation, misunderstanding; that our ignorance is the greatest benefactor of our greatest crimes. Our greatest errs in truth lie in generalization. We find consistently throughout history that the tendency of the human mind to put people into groups has aided in some of the greatest terrors of our entire race. Foremost among these examples is the Holocaust of the Jews...
In the era of the Second World War we found our world aghast at the product of Germany's concentration camps. We discovered that men could serve as both loving father and relentless tormentor, while still remaining "sane", and the question that pervaded the minds of every witness, every single mind untainted, was "How?"
How could we have fallen so low? How could be so cruel while courting an image of righteousness? How could we....?
How do we do anything we feel we should not? We convince ourselves it's OK, we tell ourselves it needs to be done.
These Jews, they are not people, they are animals. Look! They are filthy, wretched, traitorous.... They lie in their own filth. It is for the good of humanity that we eliminate them; it is no different than removing a sick animal from the flock.
We tell ourselves they aren't human.
And it's easier, so much easier to say that about one thousand, than a thousand ones. So much easier to convince ourselves once for a million, than once for each thousand. To write them all off to one diseased stock, on all-encompassing truth. More efficient, more powerful...
We've said it about the Arabs, the Blacks, the Jews, the Communists, the Terrorists, the Caucasians, the Hispanic, the Orientals, the Aboriginals, the Protestants, the Catholics, the....
We've said it again... and again, again. Until it becomes true.
So tell me why the black dog is greater than the brown, I'd really like to know. Explain to me the intricacies of why their culture is lacking. Perhaps I should omit the flaws in ours...
Before you strike hatred, be sure that your enemy is worthy of your hate. For I have found it nigh impossible to hate what I can even vaguely understand, and of those I despise… I haven’t the faintest clue.
Discussion questions/essay ideas edit
- What role can forgiveness play in reducing hatred and conflict?