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Barbara Walking in the Valley
A weekly column for those who live and walk in Silicon Valley

by Barbara Dahlgren

"People Hate as They Love…"
Column for the week of September 23-29, 2001

British journalist and novelist, William Thackeray hit the nail on the head when he said, "People hate as they love, unreasonably." How else could you explain how some Palestinians could dance in the streets when they heard our World Trade Center had been bombed? How else could you explain students in Karachi holding rallies to support Osama bin Laden? How else do you explain how 1000s Pakistan could demonstrate and burn the American flag upon hearing of our calamity? It's a kind of hatred you aren't born with but must be carefully taught, as the song from the musical South Pacific indicates. My Rodgers and Hammerstien is a little rusty but I think the lyrics go something like this:

You've got to be taught to hate and to fear,
You've got to be taught from year to year,
It's got to be drummed in your little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a different shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

Why do so many in the Muslim world seem to hate freedom, democracy, our way of life and all Americans? Some are jealous of the political, military, and financial power of the U.S. It's a classic case of resentment of the "haves" by the "have-nots." Also, Muslims who live under stringent interpretations of the Koran detest how American women are allowed to participate in our democratic society. Muslim women are considered the property of their husbands and are not allowed to drink alcohol, be educated, dress as they wish, or attend religious ceremonies. In their eyes our women are not liberated but degenerate. Many Muslims feel our U.S. foreign policies favor Israel. Others are bitter over the Gulf War. But whatever the reason, acts of terrorism are the result of hate.

Sometimes we are guilty of hate, too. When we hold every Middle Eastern person responsible for what a few do, then we are worse than they are. Why worse? Because we live in a nation that has not taught us to hate. Even in the midst of our present distress, President Bush urges us not to hold a whole nationality responsible for what a few of them do.

But there is a level of understanding that goes even higher than this. It's called hating the sin without hating the sinner. (John 3:16-21)

I had lunch with a dear friend recently. She has a close family member who was the victim of a horrendous crime. The perpetrator is now in prison and my friend prays for him to find God, perhaps through a prison ministry. I must admit that this kind of thinking amazed me so I asked, "Why?" Her reasoning was simple: so he wouldn't do the same horrible thing to someone else. "Couldn't we accomplish the same thing by killing him?" I asked. Perhaps, but then we would be the ones in prison.

It's this kind of love that humanly seems unreasonable but in God's eyes is very precious. (Philippians 4:7)

©September 2001

Be sure to visit this page every week to read the next edition of Walking in the Valley. You can write to the author at bydahlgren@aol.com.



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