Monday, January 16, 2006

The Evil of Dehumanization

Next Wednesday evening, in my last class of World Civilization for this cohort group at Indiana Wesleyan University, I will be lecturing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So in preparation, I took myself to see "Munich" today. This is not my first exposure to the conflict. I spent a couple weeks in 1998 studying the issues firsthand in Israel and Palestinian territories. Since then, it has become a personal issue to me. In my final paper for that class, instead of taking sides in the conflict, i came to one conclusion . . . that dehumanization is evil. Israel has dehumanized Palestinians and vice versa. What it creates is a cycle of violence that will never, never end. No matter how noble or righteous your cause, violence is an unending, vicious circle. This is the same reason why I have never been in support of the U.S. war in Iraq. But that's for another day.

I thought Spielberg did a fine job in this movie of storytelling and creating the many shades of gray involved in the conflict. It is commendable for a Jewish Pro-Israeli as he is to give a decently balanced Palestinian view as well. This gave the movie so much more credibility for me. However, his gray questions have caused much controversy amongst the groups spouting more war over their black/white values. Extremists will never get peace and they exist on both sides of this argument. All the hope rests in the moderates who still value discussion, diplomacy and compromise. I loathe the amount of U.S. $$ that is sent to Israel with blind support. I also loathe the evangelical church and its bias towards a secular Israel that doesn't share the values of the Sermon on the Mount. At the same time, I reject Hamas or any other Palestinian group that uses terror and murder to make its point.

On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, consider passive resistance based on the Sermon on the Mount as your model. Look at what Dr. King accomplished. Look at what Ghandi accomplished. Jesus was a Jew who was persecuted and he layed down his sword to break the cycle of violence. He forgave His abusers, he blessed His enemies. There is no other way to peace, it requires a bigger idea than vengeance. I hate all forms of dehumanization. I am not pro-Israeli nor pro-Palestinian. I am pro-peace. I know for some, that makes me a poor theologian, but the Sermon on the Mount is the central teaching of Jesus to me. I will live and die by those truths. Grace is the way, compassion is the way, understanding is the way, forgiveness is the way. These are not weak concepts, they are the way of a powerful, risen Christ. If you seek for only justice, often you will find no peace. Love is the only freedom.

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