Thursday, January 27, 2005

Just Because You're Wrong Doesn't Make Me Right

(and vice versa)

Today we are asked to remember that sixty years ago this day the Russian army liberated Auschwitz. But the Russians had their pogroms and gulags, which raises impertinent questions as to what it means to be The Liberator. Was Stalin any better than Hitler? And forgive me for not being clever enough to understand why George W Bush's commitment to imprisonment-(and torture)-without-trial at Guantanamo Bay is any different from Saddam Hussein's behaviour...

What, exactly, are we supposed to remember? The ability of human beings to systematically destroy other human beings? I have The Killing Fields of Cambodia, the Ethnic Cleansing of the former Yugoslavia, the Genocide of Rwanda, the Twin Towers...and no need to look back beyond my own lifetime to learn this lesson - except to learn that no-one has learnt anything good from learning this lesson...

What do I learn from remembering? To hate Germans? To excuse Jewish treatment of Palestinians? To believe that I am better than these others (and so justify treating them badly)?

Remembering these (and countless other) acts of human cruelty does nothing to stop me, or anyone else, from being a human who acts - or is capable of acting - cruelly. Memory is powerless to change the past, the present, or the future. The only thing that can change both myself and my enemy - and therefore our past, present, and future - is to love my enemy, to pray for those who persecute me, to forgive those who sin against me - and seek forgiveness for my own shortfallings. For in forgiving, both the forgiver and the forgiven are set free - the one from bonds of bitterness, the other from bonds of guilt.

1 comment:

  1. No one is excused from this foul kind of behavior. Not the jews, not the nazi germans, not even the turkish for the massacre over the armenians. The phrase 'dog-eat-dog' never meant so much as this scenario, where politicians fight and ordinary people die. The kinds of people that actually don't want to fight any injustified war.
    That's why you must remember that no one is perfect (particularly that concerning military and politics), and what makes you different from an assassin is the fact that you actually have enough conscience as to know you won't start a massacre like they all did.
    When the war on Iraq started, remember that Putin and Chirac were against it. But are they any better than Bush? No. They're the same exact thing as Bush is. Just remember how Putin threw nerve gas inside a theatre just to stop a few chechenian terrorists, by killing pretty much everybody in the place. How Chirac is used to performing his nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific, neverminding the environmental side effects in the weather in that region.