We fight when we are too close, look alike, eat the same stuff. Stupid, eh?


Again and again catastrophes caused by religious fanatics were on the headlines:  the home-grown alleged “Islamist terrorists” in Ottawa and the aborted Qur’an burning day in Gainsville in Florida, etc. etc.  It seems that where proximity and similarity exist, there is more possibility of hostility.  We must remember that Christianity and Islam are very similar in many ways.  It seems that similarity brings out a difference into focus and becomes an irritation.

I have often been asked if I could tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese.  Yes sometimes, but not always.  When I was in South Africa during the 1970’s, Japanese were classified as “Honorary White” because of the trade links with Japan, but Chinses were not.  A bus driver was taken to court because he forced a Japanese business man off the whites only bus.   He thought he saw a Chinese.  The bus driver won the case, because even the judge could not tell the difference Chinese and Japanese.  And yet, both nationalities have been traditional enemies for millenia.

Often enemies are neighbours.  Irish and English, Chinese and Japanese, Basque and Spanish, Hutu and Tutsi, Israeli and Palestinian.  The same problem of being too close exists between religions:  Christianity and Islam, for example.  Both are the branches of one root, Judaism: we are all children of Abraham and Sarah.   And yet, some of my co-religionists speak of the cousins-in-faith as though they were arch-enemies, calling them some such names as devils or Satan.

I think that the trouble is we are close enough to understand them partly but refuse to see the whole, because they are too close for comfort.  So we fight over small stuff, even kill each other from time to time, because we don’t  try to understand little difference.  What a stupidity!  Why can’t we try to see the other side and understand it?  After all, we differ only on minor points; easy to bridge the gap.  Isn’t a refusal to do this the root causes of many troubles today?

We have to learn the art of compromise, and see good things in different ideas.  Therein is a solution to the current political dilemma in Canada too.  When there does not seem to be a possibility of a majority government, a coalition is a good possibility.  There is already one in the U.K., and another in Australia.  Why not in Canada?  Our politicians have to stop speaking of the other parties as though they were enemies.

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