Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Destroying Hitler

It happened in the presidential debates (both candidates did it). I heard it in a promotional ad for the army recently. This casual talk of "destroying" the enemy.

I've also noticed a number of occasions recently where individuals or groups which were being attacked for holding certain opinions were quite unfairly compared to Hitler.

I have to think this kicked up, violent rhetoric which seems to be becoming more common in our national and church debates is hardly helpful and doesn't really reflect the hope for the peace of God's kingdom. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that in times past that people were a bit more careful about taking their rhetoric this far.

To have a viable political campaign, or to attract people to serve their country in the army, do you really have to talk about "destroying" other human beings?

I'd rather hear about not destroying other human beings, and doing so without calling those who don't agree with us "Hitlers" (this, I suspect, is not going to encourage them to rethink their position--and that is what we want them to do, isn't it?).

Has anybody else noticed this? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Blogger Susan Rose, CSJP said...

In general I think it's easier for people to think of those unlike them as less than human, evil and "hitlerlike." This allows them to treat them with less than respect. It gives them an out from being Christian, really.

I know many people who say things about a certain leader of our country that, while I may agree on the specifics behind them, horrify me. They have villified a particular human being and say things that are not only inappropriate I don't think they are healthy.

We all need to step back and look at our brothers and sisters as just that, brothers and sisters in Christ. We may disagree. We may be right. They may be wrong. But we are all human beings and deserving of respect.

Interesting to hear Sadaam Hussein on the radio at trial this morning. I'd kind of forgotten he was a realy person ... Not really of course, but how often do we hear about him any more?

2:46 PM  
Blogger Gashwin said...

Hey Mark: I agree, often (too often) charity takes a back seat. I've heard all kinds of things about a variety of different groups of peoples, based on their religious or political opinions, or their country of origin, or race, or what have you. Certainly a civil debate is a good thing to strive for. Maybe, though, the vehemence is often (not always) an indication of how dear the particular cause or issue is to one's heart? Or maybe because it intersects in a powerful, or maybe painful way with one's experience and life? This is not to excuse one from charity, but certainly is understandable. I guess one can be vehement and charitable as well.
That said, I found myself thinking along different lines. "Destroy your enemies" made me think of the Psalms. How often one encounters the violence in there when praying the Hours! The sentiment that one's enemies be destroyed by God! (Ps. 137:9 is my "favorite" -- "Fair Babylon, happy those who ... dash your children against a rock!" And yes, there are many ways of understanding and interpreting this, it still gives me pause every time.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous "Omis" said...

If you haven't done so recently, check out Mark Twain's "War Prayer." He speaks eloquently to this idea of what it really means to destroy one's enemy. The text is found readily online.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I've been pondering this for a while now. In one of my prayer books, this morning, this was part of the reading for today. It seems to me to fit...

Ephesians 4:31-31
All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And) be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

12:07 PM  

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