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Point of View: Tidings of Hatred, of Hatred and Fear

Wed, 12/20/2023 - 16:47

It’s the time for tidings of comfort and joy, and yet there is little of that in the world,  beginning with what was once called the Holy Land, which in my grandparents’ era used to be high on the list of places to visit in one’s lifetime.

I asked my Turkish tennis partner the other day to elucidate for me the entente that Greece and Turkey had reached recently, and, patiently, he listed the sticking points having to do with territorial waters, economics, and minority rights, and the countries’ resolve to set them aside while cooperating in other areas.

As I was thinking that if Greece and Turkey could reach a rapprochement it would not be too far-fetched to imagine that other ancient antipathies could be similarly dealt with, he said, before serving, “But it won’t last.”

I’m still hoping for visionary leaders to step forth, people like Lincoln, Gandhi, Mandela, Martin Luther King, Sadat, and Rabin, and probably, had he lived, Robert Kennedy, who can see beyond it — “it” being the dreck in which humanity seems to be mired. But, of course, they are exceedingly rare and are often killed for presuming that the temporary inhabitants of our orbiting planet ought to get along. Hatred and playing to people’s fears, though they assuredly are not the answers, seem just about always to win the day — a dark thought that this season of lights cannot expel.

Steadfastness in the face of outrages such as Hamas committed on Oct. 7 is certainly legitimate, though to have countered such butchery with the widespread bombing that has taken the lives of so many civilians — civilians admittedly placed in danger’s way by their own demented leaders — inevitably leads one to wonder if Israel, so adept at strategic strikes in the past, could not have responded in a less scorched-earth way.

It almost goes without saying that both sides have blood on their hands — as have we, it’s been noted, when it comes to the firebombing of Dresden and the atomic-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not to mention the genocide we visited upon those who were here when we arrived.

This is supposed to be a time of reconciliation, not of savagery and scattershot vengeance. Is it too much to hope for a Christmas truce and for wise men?


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