The extensive interaction with many nations about which I knew little, has made me aware what ‘tribal’ folk we humans are. We tend to identify with our own groups — ethnic, class, nationality, gender — and manifest a variety of attitudes towards others ranging along the spectrum of the subject terms above.

Wars tend to stimulate hatreds which can become broadly murderous. It is obvious that some of our young military returning from the Middle East are stricken by what they did to some there.

Anger is a milder disposition. It can come and go, be stimulated by things that still don’t produce the deadly disposition to kill.

As members of groups, we may feel dislike or indifference to others than ourselves.

Sadly there is these days too little respect for others — groups or persons. Only respecting others allows us truly to live full lives with people and engender trust and justice among us.

Some people are manifestly disposed by genes or upbringing towards one or another of these dispositions.

The suicide bombings that have been haunting us of late are deeply flawed manifestations of human despair, hatred, teaching or whatever stimulates them. Killing in wars is not much of a gain over this sort of blind murder. Innocents are too often the victims.

What to do about such, I am not quite sure. Teaching has been my personal route to making a difference in people’s lives. It does not always work, but I have seen great progress made by our great teachers — some of whom in the past became our religious models.

Where we go from here, I do not exactly know. ‘Respect for Persons’ is my ideal. I hope our present ‘wars’ will not diminish it.

And so it goes.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

Be Sociable, Share!