Saturday, July 22, 2006

Those who live by revenge, die by revenge

U. S. Expediting Delivery of Bunker Busters to Israel - Israeli Tanks Cross Southern Border: Discusses the current fighting between Israel and Gaza and Lebanon. The current fighting is justified, Israel says, due to kidnappings of Israeli soldiers. First it was one soldier kidnapped by Palestinians in Gaza, and a couple weeks later it was two soldiers kidnapped by Hezbolla in Lebanon.

So, it's simple, eh? If someone attacks you, you defend yourself. Right? If someone kidnaps your soldiers, you hit back at them. Right?

Weeeelll..... It's worth considering "why" those kidnappings were performed in the first place.

The article says: Contrary to what you will hear in American media, Cpl. Shalit was abducted in retaliation for the June 9th shelling deaths of 9 Palestinians on a beach in Gaza and the June 24th abduction of a Palestinian doctor and his brother. And, similarly, the kidnapping by Hezbollah was in retribution for different prior acts done by Israel.

What we have here is a cycle of violence. It is the "eye for an eye" type of justice, except in Israel's practice it could be called "village for an eye". Regardless of the size of the response, this just makes me think of a saying by, I think, Ghandi: An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind

This instance is a perfect example. Israel is retributing for acts by the Palestinians and Hezbollah. But those acts were in retribution for an Israeli act. But the Israeli act was in retribution for some prior act. That prior act was in retribution for some other Israeli act. etc... Are you lost yet?

This cycle is a non-ending series of each side saying "you dirty bastard, I'll get you for that".

From the viewpoint of each side it is the other who is the villian, and their acts are justified. It's well known what the Israeli point of view is, because it's the Israeli point of view that gets wide press coverage. The Israeli's are asserting a right to have their own country, and to run that country in the way they deem fit. Because they have their own country they have the right to defend their borders and secure the safety of their people.

All of that makes a lot of sense. Any nation tries to carry out those ideas, to delineate their national border, to establish laws that make sense for their people, to carry out relations with their neighbors that lead to peace and coexistance, to defend the people in case of aggression, etc.

But if you shift your viewpoint to the Palestinians, isn't that the agony they're going through? Their country was taken from them, which has left them with a 60 year long battle to defend their people in case of aggression, to have their own country, etc. From their viewpoint it is the Israeli's who are the villian, and it is their acts which are justified by national duty.

One result of the "you dirty bastard, I'll get you for that" is that the "winner" is the last one standing. But, is there a winner? The last one who is standing is still standing because they were able to summon up the strength to fight and kill and maim and destroy the lives of others. It's well known that war changes people, that the act of fighting and killing others tends to cause extreme psychological trauma to the soldiers. The old name for that trauma was "shell shock" and today they call it "Post traumatic stress disorder". Whatever the name, the cost for being the last one standing, for "winning" the battle, is that the soldiers are less capable of taking up normal life.

Another possible result of "you dirty bastard, I'll get you for that" is learning forgiveness. Instead of holding on to the need for revenge, you let go of it. An interesting example of this is the path of the Tibetans. They, too, were kicked out of their country by the Chinese. The Chinese entered their country and began destroying their monasteries, their writings, their political and religious structures, etc. In short the Chinese acted strongly to destroy the Tibetan culture.

But, the Tibetans are Buddhists, and the political leader of Tibet was the Dalai Lama, also the spiritual leader of Tibet. Rather than reach for revenge, the actions of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders has been to practice Buddhism. Buddhism teaches that the need for revenge is one form of attachment. Buddhism teaches that when you see another as a villian, that you are projecting some villian-hood from inside yourself onto that other person. Ultimately Buddhism teaches that when you attack another, even if that attack is for revenge, that you are really attacking yourself.