Sunday, March 23, 2008

Why do we hate?

I don't understand it. How is it that so many millions, billions, of people in this world honestly feel it is better to hate and to fear than to extend a hand in friendship? How can anyone raise their children to hate, to fear, even to murder those who are different? Are we really so different from each other? What would happen if we all chose to enact a change, to let that change begin right here, right now. To let go of hate and fear and learn to celebrate our differences.

Can't we all unite in condemning cowardly acts of terror, both those aimed at us and those perpetrated in our name as vengeance or some twisted form of justice? How do young children, innocent of the ways of hatred, turn into monsters, into killing machines, if not at the hands of those charged with raising and educating them, those they should be able to trust the most? When did a piece of land, any piece of land, become more important than life itself? They want it, we want it, no one is willing to share, no one is willing to budge or to compromise. In the end, we are only hurting ourselves. Beliefs on each side are equally strong, no one will bend, and thus, we both lose. How much more could we achieve together?
I've been to the homes of people on both sides of the conflict that is destroying our region. Shared their bread. Drank their wine. Laughed together. Cried together. Both are filled with people who love their children, who work hard to provide for them, who want a better future for them. Isn't it time to say "stop" to the extremists on BOTH sides who would throw all that away in their misguided need to win at all costs?

Take a moment to read these lyrics, to really read them, and then to listen, and then tell me we can't do better.

There Were Roses
(Tommy Sands)

My song for you this evening, it's not to make you sad
Nor for adding to the sorrows of this troubled northern land,
But lately I've been thinking and it just won't leave my mind
I'll tell you of two friends one time who were both good friends of mine.

Allan Bell from Banagh, he lived just across the fields,
A great man for the music and the dancing and the reels.
O'Malley came from South Armagh to court young Alice fair,
And we'd often meet on the Ryan Road and the laughter filled the air.

There were roses, roses
There were roses
And the tears of the people
Ran together

Though Allan, he was Protestant, and Sean was Catholic born,
It never made a difference for the friends, it was strong.
And sometimes in the evening when we heard the sound of drums
We said, "It won't divide us. We always will be one."

For the ground our fathers plowed in, the soil, it is the same,
And the places where we say our prayers have just got different names.
We talked about the friends who died, and we hoped there'd be no more.
It's little then we realized the tragedy in store.

It was on a Sunday morning when the awful news came round.
Another killing has been done just outside Newry Town.
We knew that Allan danced up there, we knew he liked the band.
When we heard that he was dead we just could not understand.

We gathered at the graveside on that cold and rainy day,
And the minster he closed his eyes and prayed for no revenge.
All all of us who knew him from along the Ryan Road,
We bowed our heads and said a prayer for the resting of his soul.

Now fear, it filled the countryside.There was fear in every home
When a car of death came prowling round the lonely Ryan Road.
A Catholic would be killed tonight to even up the score.
"Oh, Christ! It's young O'Malley that they've taken from the door.''

"Allan was my friend,'' he cried. He begged them with his fear,
But centuries of hatred have ears that cannot hear.
An eye for an eye was all that filled their minds
And another eye for another eye till everyone is blind.

So my song for you this evening, it's not to make you sad
Nor for adding to the sorrows of our troubled northern land,
But lately I've been thinking and it just won't leave my mind.
I'll tell you of two friends one time who were both good friends of mine.

I don't know where the moral is or where this song should end,
But I wondered just how many wars are fought between good friends.
And those who give the orders are not the ones to die.
It's Bell and O'Malley and the likes of you and I.

There were roses, roses
There were roses

Take a few minutes to listen to Tommy sing this beautiful, haunting song, made all the more terrible for its telling of a true story. There Were Roses was written about Ireland, but its message speaks to all regions in conflict.

It's been thousands of years. An eye for an eye isn't working, we're all going blind.

We can do better. We need to do better. We MUST do better. Start here. Start now. Start today. Preach peace.

The Sunday Scribblings prompt for this week was "I don't get it."


Redness said...

Haunting ... the real people get it, those in power have no idea! Marvellous post.

GreenishLady said...

I've seen Tommy Sands perform this song. It's really powerful. You make your point so well. We live in one world, and fight over the dust we will be buried in.

Robin said...

So have I, and he makes me cry every single time. He told me once that it took him over 10 years to be able to look through the pain to write that song.

We're very lucky here in Israel that Tommy and his brother Colum often come over on tour. In fact they were both over at various times this winter.

Anonymous said...

No, see, you're getting caught up in that whole "cycle of violence" nonsense. You must know that if the Palestinians stopped the terrorism today, there would never again be a Palestinian killed by an Israeli soldier. Simple as that. But if Israel stopped going after terrorists, or did what you seem to think would end the hatred-withdrawing from the West Bank- the terrorism from the Palestinians would only increase, just as it did when Israel withdrew from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Israel would be more than happy to live peacefully and never send another soldier to kill- if only her neighbors would stop trying to kill innocent Israeli citizens. I hate to say it's as simple as that, but it really is.

Robin said...

It's easier to pontificate anonymously, isn't it? Perhaps you'd like to share your name so that we can have an actual dialogue?

Not all terrorism is killing. The Palestinians kill us, yes, then we retaliate, then they kill more, then we kill more, it IS a vicious cycle. The Palestinian children killed because they were standing in the wrong place when the bombs fell are just as much victims as the Israeli children hurt the same way. Moreover, we haven't managed to stop the violence with violence, have we? Jews are still getting killed. It's not working. In between the cycles of violence other groups of Israelis, acting with tacit government approval, have stolen land, burned olive trees, and fostered a climate of hatred and indignity that only perpetuates the hatred. Yes, we have been the victim of appalling acts that can never, EVER be justified. Yet we are not without blame in the violence scorecard. Destroying someone's land, their livelihood, how does that make them want to sit down and make peace? What a powerful message it could have sent if after settlers burned down an olive grove other settlers would have gone out themselves and offered new saplings, even helped to plant them.

Have you ever actually gone into a Palestinian home and shared a meal? Or worked together over the course of months? Years? I have. I have received phone calls from colleagues who've begged me not to believe that all of them are like the ones we see on tv, and in return asked them to understand that the same holds true for Israelis. Don't tar me with your brush of prejudice. I'm not naive, nor do I believe in pacifism at all costs, and I'm fairly certain that nowhere in my post did I call for unilateral withdrawal with no safeguards. What I did do is call on everyone to look WITHIN to effect change. To stop pointing fingers and think about whether they themselves were contributing to a climate of hatred. Stop being only the victim and start looking to be the healer as well, most especially within ourselves. Peace will never come until we learn to find it foremost inside ourselves. When people on BOTH sides serve up hate with their mothers' milk is it really any wonder that hate is returned?

paisley said...

amazing song and lyrics.. thank you so much for sharing it.. i cannot answer the questions i can just continue to hide from the world in which it is the undeniable truth....

happy easter robin!!

Nancy said...

Beautiful Robin.

The puzzlement to me has always been that we, just the norm, day to day people, all agree and want and wish .... why is it the people in power can't listen to us, the majority that suffer the pain and loss?

Throughout history it is written .... but we don't have to accept the cycle. I pray for a new direction.

Tammy said...

Wise and excellent post! I agree that we all can be a part of this change.


Lea said...

Hello dear friend, yes. Yes we can do better. It starts with finding things about those we don't like (hate) and finding something good in them. It is all about listening, really listening and finding a path between opposites. Have you read Three Cups Of Tea??? I got to see where I had developed some prejudices and assumptions. It is time we each look and see where we can do better. We are here, in this place together. It is one of the things I am so appreciative for the internet, for I have friends, like you across the world, weaving a web of friendship...

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I think you know that I struggle with this question, myself.

Granny Smith said...

This post is not only meaningful and moving, it is especially so coming from you. When asked my religion, I say "Pacifism". Violence is so useless, wasteful and heart-breaking.

Thank you for sharing the Tommy Sands song, which I had not heard before.

Pieces of Me said...

I loved your post and your comment to anonymous. Yes, we need to do better. Thank you for confirming that. Why do people post anonymously when it's so clear it's peace at stake here - not the prejudice. Our inner role models need strengthening. Our inner eyes need reconfirmation. Our political leaders need reaffirming.
As one who has Palestinian relatives, I understand just EXACTLY where your coming from.

tumblewords said...

How is it that so many of us 'get it' and the people we elect to do our bidding don't have a clue.

khambagirl, said...

Very powerful. Well done! I couldn't agree more.

gautami tripathy said...

I don't know what to say here other than a powerful post..

rebecca said...

I am a product of a Prostestant father and a Catholic mother. If they, two people, out of love for each other, could put their religious differences aside, then we also can if we want to. But perhaps I am being naive.

All I know is that neither gave up their religions for the other: one did not convert to the other's religion. Instead, I was brought up in a home where I not only got exposed to different languages and completely different cultures, but also the different religions and what each had to offer. I grew up going to both Houses of Worship my entire life and I am comfortable in both. I wish many would have had this wonderful blessing that I was given.

Thank you for this post. It is good when we are reminded time and again of the tragedies that staying loyal to one's difference espouses. I will look into the video tonite as I cannot link to it from where I am now. I am looking forward to it.


Remiman said...

I fear 'twill never be but the same. I don't think peace is ever meant to be. Sad!!

westcoastauntie said...

If only wishing could make it so. But, as satan is the ruler of this earth, there will never be peace. Not until Christ returns. Still, we can all do our part by living as peaceful citizens of this planet.

UL said...

Beautiful and thought provoking.