Striving for Humanitarian Tendencies

Hazem Saghieh – Asharq Al-Awsat

The massacre at two mosques in New Zealand and then the massacre at the Sri Lanka churches. With its customary frankness, ISIS said the latter was retaliation to the former. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi then altered the story to claim it was retaliation to his defeats in Syria. Six months ago, a massacre at a Pennsylvania synagogue took place in the United States. These events took up major headlines, while small ones covered a shooting, just days ago, near a synagogue in San Diego in the US.
Many people have spoken about and continue to talk about a religious war, or rather one about religious identities with the universe as its battlefield. New Zealand, Sri Lanka, the US, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, India, Iraq, France and the list goes on. This is a radical and absolute war.
The world must not narrow down the blame for these attacks on two excuses. One good one and another horrible. Excuses take on many colors and they can become countless when they are mixed together. Sometimes very small nuances are enough to alter an excuse and create a whole new one. Reservations, revisions and criticisms also come into the picture. Words like “maybe”, “but” and “perhaps” often make a huge difference.
We are also confronted with a globalized identity war. It is based on hatred, which is based on glorifying the self and hating the other. This hatred is based on skewed understanding of history, creating intolerance. Perpetrators resort to disputes between religions that are impossible to resolve, which fuels the “need” to eliminate those who “differ” with their beliefs.
While intolerant killers focus on texts and their “understanding” of them, let us here remember the “manifesto” of the Australian murderer in New Zealand. It is best to remind ourselves of human values or work on bolstering them. A response to the approach of compartmentalizing people according to their inherited backgrounds lies in focusing on humans as one of many in a the universe. Research and liturgical students can tackle the differences and common factors between religions and histories. The oppression and torture of people regardless of their religion or race should be the foundation of a culture that opposes murder.
The Holocaust should have a been an appropriate development to globalize human solidarity and humanitarian tendencies. This took place, to an extent, in the West where the Nazi crime was committed. Here, however, and due to the Arab-Israeli conflict, something else happened: Israel, instead of dealing with it as a universal humanitarian issue, used it as a war tactic in the above-mentioned conflict. It monopolized the holocaust. Muslims and Arabs, in turn, largely refused to recognize it.
We must at this point take a moment to critique ourselves. We have noticed a marked difference in their solidarity with us in wake of the New Zealand attack and between our solidarity with them after the Sri Lanka attacks. This reflected the weak humanitarian tendencies in us. This weakness should push us towards self-reflection.
It should also lead us to question the mass loyalties dictated by our culture, which has led to the weakening of our loyalty to man. This environment fueled and justified the compartmentalization of humans and violations against them became more and more justified. This process was driven by exaggerating the idea of enmity, which sometimes took on religious turns. Dualities of hatred and division came to be and spread: Ruler and ruled. Arab and Jew. Arab and Kurd. Muslim and Christian. Sunni and Shiite. Sunni and Alawite. Arab and Amazigh. North and South in Sudan.
This was all compounded by societies where freedoms and justice are lacking. The absence has led to corrupt morals and violence. It is through freedom and justice that we can think better and rise up to the humanitarian and moral levels. The demand for freedom and justice is what binds people together the most.

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