Why Do We Hate Each Other?

By Brooks, Roger | USA TODAY, March 1994 | Go to article overview

Why Do We Hate Each Other?


Brooks, Roger, USA TODAY


Religious hatred and violence run rampant throughout the entire civilized world. Ireland remains torn by fighting between Protestants and Catholics. In Bosnia, Muslims are undergoing "ethnic cleansing" - an antiseptic euphemism for mass murder! India's Sikhs and Hindus routinely clash, burning houses of worship and killing one another. Israelis and Palestinians die in strife between religious visions of the Holy Land. The list of religiously inspired conflicts goes on and on.

How strangely ironic it is for violence to be sanctioned in the name of religion! Throughout history, religions more often have been a positive force in promoting human culture. Think of the great advances of ethical monotheism, of the Ten Commandments and Jewish ethics and law. Consider also the stunning intellectual achievements of 12th- and 13th-century Islamic philosophers, who singlehandedly preserved and transmitted the classics of Greek thought, systematized mathematics (al-gebra is an Arabic word), and took poetic analysis to new heights. Christian theology, both on its own and in response to these Muslim intellectual initiatives, produced the very staples of Western culture. Yet again, recall the uplifting and deeply spiritual literature of Hindu epics, Confucian philosophy, and the Hebrew Bible.

American culture has been much improved by its foundation in the Bible. On a social level, biblical tradition stands behind beliefs in blind justice ("You shall have but one law for rich and poor!"); in careful and truthful examination of witnesses in court ("Justice and only justice shall you pursue!"); of punishment that fits the crime ("If the criminal deserves punishment ... he shall receive it in proportion to his crime!"). On an interpersonal level, the Bible provides the bases of our ethics ("Do not place a stumbling block before the blind!" or anyone else for that matter); laws protecting life ("You shall not murder!"); family stability ("You shall not commit adultery!"); and religious tolerance ("The stranger among you shall be as the homeborn ... for you once were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the Lord am your God!"). On a personal level, biblical admonitions attempt to build character, true to people's selves, desiring nothing ("You shall not covet!"), and swearing only to the truth ("You shall not bear false witness!"). Indeed, the ethical legacy of the Bible - and of all religion - is uplifting, not full of hate.

Somehow, though, the world has turned against these uplifting religious messages. Prohibitions against worshipping other gods have led to intolerance, hatred, and even destruction of those who have other religious beliefs. Biblical war legends - in context clearly meant to "grandfather" the Land of Israel for the Jews - now are taken as justification for armed struggle. The Islamic jihad (holy war) is but one example. Messianic predictions from the Bible encouraged David Koresh and his Branch Davidian followers to amass a frightening arsenal of weapons, arms they all too clearly were willing to use to defend themselves against outsiders.

What lies at the root of this misuse of religion? There is a straightforward correlation between exclusivity and intolerance. When religions hold to an absolute claim on the truth, they turn inward, marking outsiders as "The Other. "If I am really right and you disagree, then you must be wrong. Notice how this rhetoric places the issue in stark, black-and-white terms. The emphasis is not on "what you believe is wrong," which allows for interesting discussion, but on "You are wrong," which brands an individual and makes value judgments explicitly personal. By contrast, when religions take a more measured and pluralistic view, they tend to turn outward, welcoming the best of each culture and its special wisdom.

It is the recent worldwide trend toward fundamentalism and absolutism that has led religions to promote hatred, or at least to sanction it in the name of a higher authority. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Why Do We Hate Each Other?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.