In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch teaches his daughter one of the most critical lessons any of us could ever hope to master.
If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
I don’t claim to have mastered this simple trick, but two movies I saw in the past two days have forced me into making some progress.
For My Father (2008) is set in Tel Aviv. Terek, a young Palestinian man, is a suicide bomber with a mission to detonate in a crowded marketplace to restore his father’s honor. Before seeing this film, I could never have condoned such an act of destruction. After seeing this film, I still cannot. But I do have a little better understanding of the Palestinian “point of view.” I also have a little better understanding of the Israeli “point of view.” For My Father does an excellent job of helping us see through the eyes of real people on both sides of this horrible conflict.
The War Within (2005) is set mainly in New York City. Hassan, a Pakistani student, is mistakenly arrested (and tortured) because he is suspected of being a terrorist. Burning with anger over the injustice, Hassan becomes deeply devoted to his religious faith and joins a New York-based terrorist cell intent on detonating bombs in Manhattan. Before seeing this film, I could never have condoned such an act of destruction. After seeing this film, I still cannot. But I do have a little better understanding of the radical Islamist “point of view.” I also have a little better understanding of the U.S. government’s “point of view.” The War Within does an excellent job of helping us see through the eyes of real people.
What disturbs me the most, however, is the way we humans commit so much violence and killing with divine approval.
In God We Trust
In Jesus’ Name
Violence will always be with us. We will never cease hurting one another. But I cannot accept our killing each other and bringing pain into others’ lives in the name of God. I cannot bring myself to honor and worship a God who promotes our destroying one another.
It seems to me that none of us have a monopoly on violence (just as none of us have a monopoly on non-violence and compassion).
- How many Muslims did the Christians kill in the Crusades?
- Did the Muslims of the Ottoman Empire really massacre 1.5 million Armenian Christians in the early 1900s?
- Did 200,000 Muslims really die at the hands of Christian Serbs and Croats in the 1990s?
- Is it true that the Nazis (mostly Christian) exterminated 6 million Jews in the 20th century?
- Did Christian churches in the U.S. and Germany actually bless the bombs (and the soldiers) that killed their fellow Christians?
Just a sampling. Enough to know that we all have blood on our hands.
The forecast is not good. Doesn’t look like things will be clearing up in the foreseeable future.
Maybe we can’t stop it, but just maybe we can slow things down just a little by applying Atticus’ “simple trick” in our own little, insignificant, individual lives. Just maybe. A little.
© panthera2, 2012.