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SOME CHRISTIANS ARE PERSECUTED FROM MANY SIDES
I usually like what Gwynne Dyer says, but I take exception to his emphasis on Islamicpressures in Sudan, Iraq, and other Arab countries causing demise of Christians. However, in other parts of the world other factors are also responsible.
One example I know well is in the Holy Land. There are more Palestinian Christians living in Canada and the U.S. today than those who still live in Israel and Palestine because of their exodus. Traditionally close to 20% of Palestinians were Christians. I don’t know the statistics today, but I know there are fewer than a few thousand still living in Jerusalem. Christians have lived in the Holy Land for millennia but they are leaving in droves. Leaders of the Christian community in Jerusalem have been appealing to the Worldwide Christian community for help drawing attention to the demise of Christian population in the Holy Land. Many of them go back a long way: their history is older than any Christian church in the world. Some of them can go back their family histories to the original Christians of Jewish converts at the time of Jesus and his brother James. I know personally at least two such families in Gaza.
Pressure on the Christians comes from many sides, not just from Muslim community. Israel is suspicious of them because they are Palestinians and support the P.L.O’s position on a secular state, which goes against the notion of the Jewish State. Of course, there are pressures coming from Muslims too. The Christians are the target of suspicion from them because of the activities of some American Evangelical Christians, who are the most enthusiastic supporters of the State of Israel. Some of us call them “Christian Zionists.” Thus they are seen with suspicion by both sides. They are like Orthodox Christians who had lived in the Holy Land at the time of Crusade. Crusaders did not distinguish different peoples who had lived there. So they killed Muslims, as well as Orthodox Christians and Jews in order to gain Christian control of the Holy Land. This is why the Palestinian Christians leave the land where their faith tradition began.
Let us think seriously about the persecution on religions as a human rights issue, not a political football.
HAZARD OF HUMILIATING PROUD PEOPLE
Russian President Vladimir Putin is apparently very popular in his country. Russians believe Putin’s incredible lie that, against all evidences, the Ukrainians government forces shot down Malaysian Airlines MH17, not the Russian supported separatists. However, of course, all evidences point to the separatists as culprits. It is very dangerous to humiliate a proud people: they believe anything that gives them back the pride they lost. This is why humiliation helped Adolf Hitler to be elected to lead the nation to a total disaster in order to recover the sense of greatness as people which they lost during the First World War and its aftermath.
When Japan was recovering from devastation of the World War II, the many captains of major Japanese industries that led the incredible economic recovery between 1950’s and 60’s were officers of the Japanese Imperial Forces. I knew many of them personally. The motto I heard often during those days was, “We were beaten in military, but we will beat them in economy.” That’s the one of the reasons Japan became the second largest economy in a short time until they were overtaken recently by China. Free competitive market is a constructive place to choose for revenge, but their motive gave me a chill. It is dangerous to humiliate proud people. Desire for revenge kills humanity and truth. Hatred and self-deception make all of us beasts. When we remind ourselves about the greatness of Russian culture; art, literature, music, and science, it is understandable that people love Mr. Putin who is helping them recover the pride they had lost after the fall of the Soviet empire.
I am in no way justifying the evil paths German, Japanese, and Russian people had followed during the 20th Century. But I am warning about the danger of humiliating people. Gwyn Dyer traces the almost intractable problems facing the Middle East to the humiliation of the Arabs and the Jewish people. They were both great people in culture, science, and spiritual traditions. And yet they had been utterly humiliated by the West throughout the recent history. Have we done the same to the First Nations?
We must never humiliate people. Like the cliché has it, ”Hate evil not people.”
August 5, 2014