Friday, 10 September 2010

Not in My Back Yard

Once upon a time, if someone asked you a question, one of the first responses would have been:

'What can I do for you?'

In 2010, it seems that this statement is changed, archived, redundant. We appear, at certain times, to be an increasingly inhospitable world where the urge to resist or destroy overides any instinct to encourage and create. 

The most notable case this week was the abhorrent case of Mr Terry Jones (he calls himself 'Pastor', but I don't recognise his right), a minister of a small baptist church in America. Upon the impending anniversary of 9/11, a day in history when pure hatred killed the innocent, rather than having  day of prayer for the witnesses, he guided his flock to another place of hatred. 'Burn the Koran Day', proclaimed his website and church. Words fail me (and that takes some doing). Arguably the most toxic and inflammatory act of the year, had it gone ahead, Mr Jones would not have just offended the religion blamed for 9/11, but every Muslim in the world, and also every person who hold scripture as special and sacred. Potentially, the act he proposed could have resulted in a greater mortality, and would certainly have been considerably injurious to innocent people. Hate responding to Hate - the sum of that can only be 'hate'.

We also have a case in New York where an Islamic Cultural Centre is being built in proximity to Ground Zero, much to the resistance of so many. I can understand the concerns of those who are protesting, but it is (a perhaps inevitable) emotional reaction, not a thought-out one. Once upon a time, one Mr A Hitler authorised the killing of millions, and he once started to train as a priest. Does that mean, by implication, that churches should not be built anywhere near the homes of Jewish people? Of course not, because the actions of Mr Hitler were not the fault of Christians, any more than the action of 9/11 were the fault of ordinary Muslims. If we start to make normal, ordinary, run-of-the-mill people pay for the crimes of an extreme minority, it is our very civilisation that suffers. I will be making all the people from Yorkshire pay the price for the Ripper next, and that would be absurd.

We need to learn how to allow things to heal. They heal only when we let them, and by our efforts. Territorialism creates little islands of isolated individuals - we need, I think, to return to that old saying, wherever it is from:

'Love thy neighbour as thyself'

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