Monday, September 17, 2012
Hatred is easier
I had lunch last week with a friend who is pro-Gaddafi. He argued at length not about the man's mistreatment or vilification, but rather he spoke of economic policies and telecommunications, the distribution of oil wealth, of literacy and education strategies. He spoke as someone who had studied the country from afar and spent a long time travelling within.
If I asked many people, particularly in the west to describe a 'Gaddafi supporter', this is probably not the man they would describe. I doubt they would say well-educated, well-travelled and middle class.
Some of his theories I had heard before, others I had not. But without exception I had heard none of them in the year's before Gaddafi's death. I had heard none on Australian television, none when I was studying Middle Eastern politics. Those that I had heard were gleaned through blogs written by African bloggers in the wake of Gaddafi's death.
Whether I agree with what he has to say or not, is irrelevant. The fact is that he has views, strong views, that run contrary to the views that many in the West have grown up with. His views are well thought out, they are the product of many years of consideration, and personal investigation and they are not his alone.
It is important to remember that there are people like this when we watch footage of the awful attacks on American and other western embassies. The anger and conflict is not simply a reaction to one inflammatory video. It stems from the fact that there are people out there who have different views on the world to our own. And we can't beat that out of them, in the same way that they can't beat our views out of us.
It is ironic that it is easier to deal with the fundamentalists on both sides. They see a movie and centuries of hatred flares. We see acts of violence and centuries of fear and hatred flares. And then both sides can point to those at the extreme and be horrified and enraged.
Focusing on the extreme is easier because if we have a clearly thought out view of the world that seems logical and fair, and they have a clearly thought out view of the world that seems logical and fair, then what do we do?
Then we might have to revert to things like empathy, and compassion, and patience, and concession. We might have to consider that 'those' people, whoever they are, want similar things to us, like a job and a house and an education, to fall in love and be surrounded by people they love and to be inspired and to laugh and that's way harder than hatred.