Monday, March 20, 2006

Political leaders turn potential friends into enemies

The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border.
- Pablo Casals, cellist, conductor, and composer (1876-1973)

Why indeed?

We have an instinct to avoid, reject or shun what is different, what we don't know or don't understand.

In our distant past, our ancestors knew everyone in their tribe and they knew some neighbouring tribe members with whom they traded. Anyone else was a stranger, thus likely to be an enemy, someone who might kill them.

Today's enmity toward strangers goes beyond that instinct, however. In western societies people get frustrated, anxious, worried and fed up with the lifestyle they must endure in order to "fit in" with others in their community. Some can't handle the stress and want to relieve it by taking out their anger on strangers.

That anger can sometimes be relieved through sports. For others politics or the military offer them ways to make others "pay for their sins" of being strangers.

Coming back to today's quote, we would all like to love our neighbours, no matter where they live. But we can't love someone we don't know.

The "others," it seems, don't want to know us. They don't try. Some of the strangers want to kill us, if our media and our political leaders can be believed.

But do we try to get to know them?

Who should make the first move toward friendship, toward getting to know each other? Toward loving each other?

You can be certain that it won't be our political or military leaders. They would have too much to lose if today's strangers became our friends. They depend on conflict to get them reelected. They depend on someone always being wrong.

They depend on making friends into enemies sometimes in order to get our vote.

If we need a program to tell us who the good guys are and who are the bad guys, we have let someone else do our thinking for us.

Count on it, if we allow someone else to think for us, they will never make strangers into friends. They always, without fail, want to make strangers into enemies.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show everyone that the world is full of potential friends.
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