Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Hatred is the easiest of choices

Roger Scruton:

In dealing with terrorism you are confronting a resentment that is not concerned to improve the lot of anyone, but only to destroy the thing it hates. That is what appeals in terrorism, since hatred is a much easier and less demanding emotion to live by than love, and is much more effective in recruiting a following.

And when the object of hatred is a group, a race, a class or a nation, we can furnish from our hatred a comprehensive stance towards the world. That way hatred brings order out of chaos, and decision out of uncertainty - the perfect solution to the alienated Muslim, lost in a world that denies his religion, and which his religion in turn denies.

Of course, hatred has other causes besides resentment. Someone who has suffered an injustice may very well hate the person who committed it. However, such hatred is precisely targeted, and cannot be satisfied by attacking some innocent substitute. Hatred born of resentment is not like that. It is a passion bound up with the very identity of the one who feels it, and rejoices in damaging others purely by virtue of their membership of the targeted group.

Resentment will always prefer indiscriminate mass murder to a carefully targeted punishment. Indeed, the more innocent the victim, the more satisfying the act. For this is the proof of holiness, that you are able to condemn people to death purely for being bourgeois, rich, Jewish, or whatever, and without examining their moral record.

The tendency to resent lies in all of us, and can be overcome only by a discipline that tells us to blame faults in ourselves and to forgive faults in others. This discipline lies at the heart of Christianity and many argue that it lies at the heart of Islam, too.

If that is so, it is time for Muslims to organise against those who preach resentment in the name of their religion, and who regard last week's crimes in London as virtuous deeds, performed with God's blessing, in a holy cause.

This is very wise writing I think.

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