Sunday, July 24, 2016

Some Lessons to be Learned from the Munich Tragedy

The man who carried out the horrendous massacre this past week in Munich happened to be a German of Afghan parents. A search of his home found no evidence of Islamic hate literature, but instead evidence of hate literature of a more generic variety. Feeding one's mind on "hate" makes one ugly. It matters not the source. But why a person becomes drawn to hate and consumed by it is not fully known. The general pattern is that a person who is surrounded by love and understanding will not do so. And yet even there we hear of exceptions. What Ali David Sonboly experienced in his home life is unknown. But there are stories of his being bullied and held up to ridicule for his non-German background. True? Who knows? (Fact is most kids get ridiculed for something. It is part of growing up with others as immature as we each were at one point in our life.) When, following the shootings, he was seen wandering about on a building roof some passers by called him a "turk." He yelled back "I am a German." The words "Turk" and "Turkish" have been used as a generic for anything from the area of the Levant or thereabouts since at least the 1800s. Mozart and Beethoven, for instance, called certain music "Turkish" if it had an "eastern" flavor. But to a youth in Germany today it would mean "other" - a mark of exclusion -- a huge burden for any youth to carry. That is something we should keep very much in our thoughts. Divisions cause hate. And hate in some cases leads to violence. Here in the USA great progress was being made for a good number of years in breaking down such exclusionary divisions. But all it takes are a few bad examples -- people who themselves are steeped in divisiveness -- and, especially if such come to have power or influence, the sleeping remnants of hate can come quickly back to life. This, sadly, is what has happened here in the US under Barack Obama. He himself, despite being of mixed race, is steeped in racial divisiveness. Enough so that with likely dozens and dozens of churches to choose from, he and Michelle chose to attend that of a known hater -- Jeremiah Wright. And there they listened (and had their daughters listen) to messages of hate week after week after week. That spirit -- very possibly there on some level from the start -- crept in to their hearts. And then it leaked out and touched our entire nation. Now, not quite eight years after Barack Obama became an influential voice, much of the nation's progress in overcoming racialism has been undone. Yes, such is the power of hate. We individually cannot change the heart of someone like President Obama, but we can resist its influence on our own heart and thinking. No one in America should be, by reason of his birth, an excluded one; a "turk." It is unfortunate that the basic lessons that have built up the Western World -- that of tolerance and understanding -- are being softened and forgotten. For it is these concepts that create unity and peace. Instead easy answers to the growing problems of division and violence are being sought after. Such as "gun control." The media will not play it up, but it is worth noting that the laws against firearm ownership in Germany are even more draconian than they are in Chicago. And they have proved no more effective at stopping violence there than they have here. If a person wants to kill they will find a way. A gun. A knife. A truck. Germans these days generally do not kill each other on the streets. This is not because they do not have guns, but because they as a people have adopted a culture that is basically not criminal. It is worth noting that the same is true in many parts of America. Being able to legally own guns, or not being able to legally own guns, is not what determines how much violence there is in a given place. What does is the people who live there -- what they have come to believe and how they choose to behave. The hurt done by a hater such as Ali David Sonboly is great. Lives lost. Families devastated. Entire communities fractured. That such happens equally breaks our hearts and turns our stomachs. But such is the world we live in. What we can we do about it? Seemingly not much on the grand scale. But we can look at our own hearts and minds. -At how we view and interact with others. And we can be honest about the sources of hate. We can resist them and stop making excuses for them.

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