I Hate You

By Sarah Braasch

In loving memory of my baby brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 – 02/02/10)

In an internet café in downtown Rabat in Morocco, a middle-aged, middle-class Muslim woman told me that her fondest wish would be to have all of the Arab nations rise up as one and slaughter every Jew on the planet. A young and brilliant male Chinese engineer and co-worker at a small high-tech firm in the San Fernando Valley in California told me that the Japanese are vastly inferior to the Chinese, and that the Chinese are vastly superior to any other race on Earth, as evidenced by all of their technological and cultural achievements at a far earlier date than any other race. My Chinese and Taiwanese colleagues derided me for my Tiger birth year. As a woman, I could not have been born on a less auspicious year. Tigers are ferocious and proud and aggressive. Woe to the Tiger woman. She will certainly never marry. And, I never have.

A Pakistani taxi driver in New York City told me that he hits Muslim women who proposition him for sex as a show of respect. He then propositioned me for sex. A family of Polish immigrants told me that they wouldn’t vote for Obama, because blacks are lazy and entitled, and Obama’s victory would only render them more so. They also told me that they hate Jews and believe them to have been responsible for 9/11. A German tour guide on the Cote d’Azur told me that the French hate the Italians for being stupid, and the Italians hate the French for being snobs. As a young Jehovah’s Witness girl, I relished my secure knowledge that I would survive to enjoy an eternity of earthly paradise while the rest of humanity would suffer horrifying and well-deserved deaths at Armageddon for having rejected Jehovah God. I looked forward to the spectacle with genocidal glee.

Christians have told me that they hate Muslims. Muslims have told me that they hate Jews. Whites have told me that they hate blacks. Florentines have told me that they hate Sardinians. Sunnis have told me that they hate Shi’as. Ethiopians have told me that the Amhara hate the Oromo who hate the Amhara, all of whom hate the Tigrays. But, they really hate the Somalis and the Eritreans. Everyone tells me that they hate gays. And, women. Well, for the most part, no one says that they hate women, but they certainly act like they do.

There seems to be something about me that elicits honesty and trust. People open up to me. They reveal their true feelings. They seem to trust that I will not judge them. And, I don’t. They seem to feel that I will not condemn them. And, I don’t. They seem to think that I understand the darker sides of their natures. And, I do.

Perhaps I betray that trust. Perhaps I manipulate them. Perhaps I lure them into a false sense of security. Perhaps there is no perhaps.

Maybe it’s because they sense my utter lack of group allegiances. I claim no membership in any tribe. Of course, I must function in a world in which more than a handful of group memberships are imposed upon me by accident of my birth, but I feel no particular pride or obligation or prejudice as a result. No one can be outside of your group, if you don’t have an in-group.

I was raised in an abusive, lower middle-class Jehovah’s Witness home in suburban Minnesota by white parents of Northern European ancestry, and, if family lore is to be believed, a dash of Native American. Those are my ostensible tribal identities by birth. One of the few positive aspects of being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness was the fact that I grew up in a racially integrated religious community, even if my residential and academic communities were anything but. Nonetheless, I walked away from all of my tribes at the moment I turned 18. I rejected everything I had been. I decided to recreate myself anew.

I turned myself into a human rights activist and writer, intent on raising public awareness of the atrocities human beings perpetrate against one another in the name of their respective tribal identities. I seek the truth, but I have no desire to victimize anyone. I seek to expose and dismantle institutions and cultures of tribalism and oppression, not individual lives. I would never reveal anyone’s identity. I reveal their bigotries, their hatreds, their genocidal desires, their misogyny, their ethnocentrism, their fascism and their racism. I see them as victims too, not just perpetrators. They are also victims of indoctrination, of their divisive group ideologies, perpetuated by their respective tribes, be they defined by race, religion, creed, ethnicity, class, nationality, culture or what have you.

Tribalism seems to be the defining characteristic of humanity. The adulation of one’s own group and its defining attributes while also condemning and demonizing all outsiders and their respective groups, including their allegedly contrasting attributes. We will either learn to overcome this vestigial proclivity or be overcome by it, like an infected and inflamed appendix. Evolutionary sepsis, if you will.

And, does it really need mentioning that all of these tribal identities that we hold so dear don’t actually exist? They are arbitrary and illusory social constructs. Man made. Artificial. Fake.

Racial distinctions? Not real. National boundaries? Not real. Religious affiliations? Not real. Cultural distinctions are nebulous and amorphous, fleeting and evanescent. Cultures rise and fall and twist and turn like the unrelenting and dispassionate vicissitudes of the turbulent seas. Efforts to protect and maintain cultures and to grant groups rights invariably lead to the most egregious human rights violations.

Many of my colleagues would recoil at such a claim. This approach ignores the wrongs of biblical proportions, which have been perpetrated against human beings because of their group identities. How do you go about seeking justice for the countless persons who were murdered or tortured or dehumanized in genocidal campaigns without addressing the fact that these atrocities were committed because of the victims’ tribal identities, social constructs or no. Real or illusory though they may be.

What is the alternative? Sometimes when you act as if the circumstances are as you wish them to be, you can effect positive change via a self-fulfilling prophecy. We may just have to resign ourselves, as a species, to letting go of our lust for retribution, in order to create a world in which we all may live. We may need to shed our tribal allegiances in order to survive.

So, what’s a well-meaning human rights activist to do? It seems positively hopeless. Never-ending cycles of oppression and victimization based upon artificial divisions within humanity or wish fulfillment.

Tribalisms, including religion, probably served important evolutionary purposes at one point. But, times have changed. Circumstances have changed. Our well-honed ability to distinguish ourselves from one another based upon imaginary distinctions no longer serves the purpose of perpetuating ourselves as a species. We are too many. We are running out of water and land and oil and other resources. We are destroying what habitable geography we now possess. We are no longer served by trying to outbreed one another into submission. We are no longer served by keeping women as sex slaves to generate a ready source of slave child labor. And, our well-honed ability to invent illusory group divisions is matched only by our well-honed ability to invent very real methods for killing one another on a massive, even global scale.

To grant credence to these so-called differences and group characteristics is to divorce one’s self from reality. We no longer have the luxury of ignoring one another. We no longer have the luxury of isolating ourselves geographically or otherwise. All of our divisions have been rendered meaningless except in the id dominated portions of our minds. Global transportation, migration, and communication have eradicated any notion of difference.

We must either accept our new reality as a single global family of individual human beings, or destroy one another. It is really that simple. Anyone who avers otherwise is not willing to see the stark and bleak future confronting us.

The problem is time. We don’t have enough of it. Maybe if we had started the process of shedding our idiocies earlier, we wouldn’t have found ourselves in such dire straits at the latest possible moment. Maybe if we had figured out a way to colonize other planets sooner, we could have established a Christian colony on Venus and a Muslim colony on Mars and a Jewish colony on Mercury. The Hindus could take Jupiter. No one would be able to keep Earth, as this would inspire far too much rancor over one or the other religious group being able to retain their earthly holy sites while the other groups would be forced to forego theirs. No doubt there would be much bickering over who gets which planet, over who has to share, and the astrological and theological implications of the assignments.

The problem is arrogance. We have too much of it. Arrogance and self-conceptions of victimization and persecution. Everyone thinks they are better than everyone else. And, everyone wants to be able to claim past grievances, past victimizations, which bestow upon them privileges not to be enjoyed by others. Here’s the honest-to-god truth: You’re shit. Not the shit. Just shit. And, so is everyone else. You’re not better than anyone else. Your culture was not superior to anyone else’s. If it were, it wouldn’t have died. And, the current leaders will die out too. Your religion or prophets or whatever don’t possess any truth that has been denied all others. You are human. You are nothing more and nothing less. You are just like everyone else.

But, being human is wonderful. Or, at least, it can be. It could be. And, it is enough. Or, at least, it should be. But, human beings seem to be too stupid to enjoy their extraordinary good fortunate to have won the cosmological super lotto. We exist. Woo hoo. We are here. Enjoy.

Is just getting rid of religion enough? The so-called New Atheists are often criticized for taking aim exclusively at religion. Attacks against religion as a divisive group ideology, which may lead to humanity’s downfall, are derided as ignorant and facile. Opponents of the anti-theists claim political and territorial and national and military disputes as the real culprits.

In a sense, they are right. Religion is but one aspect of the greater problem. The problem is tribalism. Religion is a particularly virulent form of tribalism, because it also presupposes truths without evidence and demands uncritical devotion and impunity and immunity from criticism. The other tribalisms also have their respective dogmas. But, maybe not to the extent that religion does.

Sam Harris often says that he is not really attacking religion so much as dogma. He is attacking faith – belief without evidence. I would suggest a counterpoint to that position. I would suggest that we should broaden our attack to include all tribalisms, not just religion. We should attack all divisive group ideologies. This includes race, religion, class, creed, nationality, culture, ethnicity, etc., etc..

Even the relatively benign stuff disturbs me. The pride in artistic accomplishments or scientific feats of one’s fellow in-group members. The riotous and bacchanalian celebrations over the sports victories of the team bearing the name of one’s in-group, regardless of the actual origin of the players. The incessant retelling of military conquests by one’s ancestors of long ago.

I am not suggesting that we destroy our cultural heritage or force everyone to conform to a homogenized and sanitized set of characteristics. Not in the least. I am arguing for the maximization of freedom. I am arguing for the maximization of anarchy. I am arguing for the maximization of individualism, including the individual choice to self-identify with whichever cultural norms one wishes. I am arguing against the absurd notion of group rights. I am arguing against the even more absurd notion of cultural rights. We cannot maintain or protect cultures. History, yes. But, cultures, no. Any attempts to protect or maintain groups or cultures or nations inevitably leads to oppression and human rights violations, especially of the most vulnerable members of any group, the women and children.

Groups wish to perpetuate themselves. A group is an entity, and, like any other entity, a group will seek out its own survival. Women and children are the means of perpetuating the group. Inevitably, the group leaders will seek to subjugate and control the women and children. Religion has been a particularly useful tool in realizing this aim.

In order for humanity to survive, the individual must rule. Only individual rights may have any political or legal currency. All group ideologies must enter the free global marketplace of ideas. No special privileges any longer for religion or nationality or race or culture. Sink or swim. The clergy and the other ideologues will have to win over their adherents like shop owners have to win over their customers, like intellectuals have to win over academia. An individual may choose or not choose to participate in whichever culture or religion or group, and, if it ceases to serve him or her, leave it just as easily without death threats and labels of apostasy.

But, in a sense, I am arguing for communitarianism, but only on a species-wide, global scale. Our in-group needs to include the entirety of humanity. Each and every single, individual human being is in our tribe.

A young Kazakh man I had met told me that he was really angry about a travel program he had seen on TV. The travel program described an ancient city in Uzbekistan, near the border with Kazakhstan, as an Uzbek city, not a Kazakh city. I asked him why this would bother him so much. He said that that particular city had always been a Kazakh city for millennia and millennia, and that the Uzbeks had stolen it from the Kazakhs about 1200 hundred years ago, and that it riles him each and every time he hears this city mentioned as an Uzbek city.

I suggested that it might be time to get over it.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    “Better the pride that resides in a citizen of the world,
    than the pride that divides when a colorful rag is unfurled.”

    Tribalism, of all sorts, sucks.

  • http://weneedus.tumblr.com/ Ted

    I salute you. Your idea(l)s match mine pretty much exactly. It seems we foster a sense of worth only in the sense of difference, of superiority. Disconnection makes us real, and religion, monotheism in particular, thrives on that lethal denial of our desperate need for each other.

    It must be difficult to receive so much loathing, even or especially? when it has nothing to do with you. I spew out a deal of that myself (http://weneedus.tumblr.com) though I aim it at this behavior, not groups that may foster it. Some may take it that way. It is deeply sorrowful to reflect how much pain must lie dammed up behind these walls of loathing.

  • Ritchie

    “Tribalism seems to be the defining characteristic of humanity. The adulation of one’s own group and its defining attributes while also condemning and demonizing all outsiders and their respective groups, including their allegedly contrasting attributes.”

    THANK YOU!!

    “Everyone thinks they are better than everyone else. And, everyone wants to be able to claim past grievances, past victimizations, which bestow upon them privileges not to be enjoyed by others.”

    Hear hear!

    “Even the relatively benign stuff disturbs me. The pride in artistic accomplishments or scientific feats of one’s fellow in-group members. The riotous and bacchanalian celebrations over the sports victories of the team bearing the name of one’s in-group, regardless of the actual origin of the players. The incessant retelling of military conquests by one’s ancestors of long ago.”

    Brava!

    I’ve long hated the way idiotic tribalism is not only prevalent, but actively encouraged. Sporting events, media racial stereotypes, anything that owns the odious label of ‘patriotism’ – even the glamourisation of violence can be seen as feeding a deep-seated superiority complex that may well be part of human nature.

    I can’t remember where I read it, but most people think they are slightly cleverer, prettier, funnier, sexier, kinder and better drivers than average. It seems a little delusion is normal. In fact, depressives have the most consistently realistic assessment of their abilities. Is a little self-delusion necessary to keep us sane, or is a little delusion so common than we equate the absense of it with mental illness?

    This is one of my favourite topics to rant on, but I don’t think I could improve on what you’ve already said. So I’ll just say ‘Amen’!

  • http://yetanotheratheistblog.wordpress.com stone1343

    As always, Sarah is so powerful she leaves me simultaneously speechless and desperate to say something. I wish I could’ve taken her away from the pain of her childhood, I am stunned by her strength and will to make the world a better place. I’m so happy every time I see a new piece by her (though this one hurt a little to think that she hates me!). Thank you

    Jeff

  • Eurekus

    Damn this is hard hitting. You’re right, we are all shit and we need to change. I am a proud monarchist who thinks our way was better than a republic, but after reading this I see that’s just arrogance on my part. I think that I should just shut the F*CK up and listen to another opinion.

  • http://www.ceetar.com Ceetar

    communitarianism.

    This will never happen. And the closer we get to the ‘ideal’, the more the little things will be picked on and hated more. (as if worshipping a different figurative diety wasn’t ‘little’ enough)

    The public will always be filled with hate and jealousy. Yes, I get excited when my group of athletes does better than the other. I belittle the fans of the other team, I make fun of the city they’re from. But it’s all an act. I don’t mean it. I don’t really wish them harm. It’s part of the game and the enjoyment of it. It’s competition, the strive to make myself, my group, my feelings, better.

    If I don’t think better than most people, at least at something, how would anything get done? How would new things get created, new problems get solved? If we invoked some kind of mass oligarchy, the log-jam of American Politics would look decisive in comparison.

    The masses want status quo, but it’s the individual differences and self-importance that drives society forward.

  • http://www.essentiallightphotography.com Jim Sabiston

    Wow. On a site known for high quality posts, this one stands out. Excellent observations on virtually every point.

    My own prediction is that this badly needed change will never happen. The evolutionary monkey mind is simply too strong, to deeply inbred (literally). The results will not be pleasant. As you have experienced, inherent behaviors can be changed, but it takes personal effort and a desire to initiate the change. To quote A.G. Bennett: “You cannot achieve the aim without suffering.”

    The esteemed Mr. Bennett was referring to the conscious mental effort required to initiate behavioral change within oneself. The vast majority of the population have no interest in doing so or, for that matter, recognize the simpel fact that they are part of a larger problem and thus we continue on our self destructive path.

  • Dan

    An interesting rant, but really tangential to atheism.

  • http://protostellarclouds.blogspot.com Mat Wilder

    I like your point about aiming at the destruction of institutions not individual lives.

    I have felt for some time that while there is no denying that there are victimizers, even they are victims too. Everyone is a victim of a heartless universe.

    I may not always live up to the universal compassion that I think follows from such a stance (in fact I probably rarely do), but I try. I imagine you are quite good at it yourself.

  • jemand

    @Dan, HAHAHAHA

    you read it right? ‘cuz I’m guessing you did not.

  • Nathaniel

    The only way humans will forget our tribes is when space aliens come down. Then we’ll forget our differences for the amount of time it takes to beat them.

  • Paul

    An interesting rant, but really tangential to atheism.

    Why don’t you start your own blog and post about how DA has jumped the shark, then? Tribalism is infinitely more relevant in the long term to atheism than even Catholocism is. Yet you complain here instead of the posts on Catholic child abuse. If you’re not interested, don’t bother reading and spare us the smug, dismissive comments.

    Great post, Sarah.

  • http://nssphoenix.wordpress.com Dave

    Sarah,

    Statistics are on your side. The 20th century, for all its organized violence, killed fewer people as a percent of the population than any previous century, and the trend is downward.

    The violent prone volunteer to kill and be killed. They voluntarily blow themselves up. Cleans up the gene pool and the meme pool.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    Sarah:

    This is a great post. I think one of the reasons why even a more “moderate” form of religion can be dangerous is because of the tribalism you’ve described here, so that even someone who doesn’t really go to religious services, pray, etc. will still automatically trust someone else who also identifies as being part of the same religion compared to someone of a different religion. (I know people who are not so very religious themselves but still hold on to some of the prejudices that they were taught by that religion.)

    The point you made about group rights being detrimental to some people within the group (e.g. women and children) is absoluely right. Whenever someone tries to defend the actions taken by the government of some Muslim countries as being part of their culture, I can’t help but think that there are people in those countries who wish it wasn’t part of the culture, since it is hurting them.

    The part where you wrote about people being able to identify with whatever group they want and being free to leave that group if/when they want to is exactly what I’ve been thinking of recently. It’s ridiculous to think that someone should have to identify with a group just by their birth; it should be a choice.

    I’m not sure what you meant by advocating anarchy. If by that you meant the individual’s right to decide what group they want to be in, I very much agree.

    I don’t think it’s possible to have complete anarchy or disassociation from each other. I do think that we, as humans, will always want to be part of groups, but I think the key is to get rid of the mentality that one person is automatically better than another person just because of what group they are in. (This is probably going to be a really bad analogy, but just as an example, I can be a fan of a certain book series without thinking that fans of another book series are morally inferior.)

    I don’t know if there is hope for a perfect world in the future. In fact, I very much doubt it. However, we can at least try to make things better and as good as possible.

    All the best.

    -Sharmin

  • Sterculius

    The evils and tragedies of which you speak are real, but their significance diminishes in inverse proportion to the time frame under consideration. Unfortunately, the victims suffering the pain caused by the examples you describe cannot take any solace in reflecting that at some inevitable point in the future, our planet and all the life on it will be destroyed by either an asteroid, a comet, our sun evolving into a red giant or any one of a number of possible cataclysmic events. Our universe itself might (must?) collapse in upon itself triggering yet again another big bang event in the continuous progression of expansion and contraction. While this might be dismissed as an irrelevant and overly pessimistic perspective, I see it as being an essential step in forming a realistic understanding of the problem facing us all. Just as we, individually, will someday die, so will each culture, nation and civilization. Only by accepting and embracing the transitory nature of existence can it ever become possible for us to rise above our petty concerns and make the most of whatever time we have left.

  • http://protostellarclouds.blogspot.com Mat Wilder

    Sharmin, I was thinking along the same lines as you, a bit. Nerds, geeks, whatever you want to call them can be very tribal, but not (usually, in my experience) in a bad way. We argue about stupid shit like which superhero would win in a fight, but it’s all in fun. We don’t judge, say Harry Potter fans as inferior if we’re Lord of the Rings fans. (Although Twilight is another matter altogether. ;-)

  • Katie M

    Sarah, I have always felt that human beings have more in common than they realize. The benign differences (music, cuisine, etc.) make life interesting. The malignant differences (religion, politics, etc.) have to be dealt with. I think that eventually, possibly even sometime this century, the madness will (for the most part) come to an end. Technologies like television and the Internet have allowed people from all parts of the globe to come together to exchange ideas, compare individual takes on life. Friendships are being forged between people who have never met in real life. Space travel will also help subvert tribalism-after all, you can’t see national boundaries from space.

    That’s what I think, anyway.

  • Katie M

    And here’s a piece from CNN that lends support to my feelings-http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/03/31/walk.in.our.shoes.ireport/index.html?hpt=C1

  • http://www.superhappyjen.blogspot.com SuperHappyJen

    I’m reminded of a nature documentary in which two tribes of chimps were fighting over a fruit tree. The first tribe invaded the tree, killed all the rival chimps, and ate the meat from their bones.

  • Phil

    Religions bring about tribalism on a smaller scale, too. There are more than 30,000 denominations within Christianity. Most of those do not deny the Christianity of (at least some of) the other denominations, yet they still feel the need to form their own denomination. If their beliefs are true, they will spend eternity in heaven with people of other denominations, but they refuse to spend a few hours a week with them. The existence of various denominations is one of the most contradictory things about Christianity, when approached through either Christian doctrine or pure logic.

  • Lynet

    Sarah, you touched on the fact that there are two ways to look at this. We can eliminate tribalism, or we can expand it. We can make the individual the important unit, or we can make all of humanity (or even all conscious beings) the important unit. I would argue that we must do both of these things to some extent. If the individual was the only important unit, we would end up with an ideology approaching hard-core libertarianism with no concern for the common good. On the other hand, if the good of the community was the only concern, there would always be some individuals who would bear far more than their share of the burden to conform.

    Self-forgivingly, though, I’d like to say that tribalism isn’t always bad even when it doesn’t reach either of these extremes. Tribalism has a strong up-side in that it promotes compassion within the group; its down-side is the reduction of compassion for those outside the group. But do those things have to be stressed equally? I would argue not. Sometimes it’s possible to downplay the hostility to outsiders to the level of, say, friendly rivalry, or to be self-aware enough to correct for such irrationality, while still keeping the group bonds that help to make life worthwhile. Thus, I love my country, even if I know it’s not necessarily better than anyone else’s. Thus, I’m loyal to the singing group I belong to, and in a competition situation I’d much rather we won over anyone else, but I still know that we’re not necessarily objectively more worthy in that regard.

    I would argue that the correct reaction to tribalism is usually not to try to break the bonds that hold people together, only to try to get over the suspicions that can pull us apart.

  • Tonya

    This is a great post! I’m all for a valiant effort, but I’m afraid we, as the human race, are too far gone. I don’t think it can be fixed until it’s hit rock bottom and there is NO WHERE left to go but up. Nathaniel’s comment earlier probably hit the nail on the head: “The only way humans will forget our tribes is when space aliens come down.” I hope he’s wrong about the next part though: “Then we’ll forget our differences for the amount of time it takes to beat them.”

  • http://zengh98purplelake.spaces.live.com/ Hu Zeng

    At a time when nationalism runs ever higher in China, I think we need more Chinese Sarah Braasch to counteract the virulent Chinese tribalism. But such powerful and “subversive” comments may not escape the Great Firewall. Tribalism is so entrenched in human psyche that I personally feel it will take decades, or even longer, to erase.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Thank you so much for the very thoughtful and thought provoking comments.

    I did just want to add that I don’t see this piece as just my ruminations on a utopian dreamscape. I am also not arguing against healthy competition. By all means, feel a sense of pride and accomplishment for your own, individual achievements. Global communitarianism is not global communism. (I think the point about the balance between libertarianism and socialism is an excellent one, but I chose to save that for another time.) I do think, if our species survives for any great length of time — that world government is all but inevitable.

    I do feel that there are very real, concrete actions that we can take to move humanity away from tribalism.

    I think it’s interesting that atheist detractors would say much the same things about our attacks on religion: that religion will never go away; that people will always be religious; that we shouldn’t bother.

    To be honest — I actually don’t hold out a lot of hope for humanity, but I think we have to try.

    Also, as a women’s rights activist, I see these efforts to eradicate all forms of tribalism and dogma, including, and, perhaps, especially religion, as central to the fight for full recognition of women as individual human beings.

    Thank you again. The intelligence and wisdom of DA commenters never fails to impress me.

  • JD

    Our differences are real. Genetic traits are real. I think pretending they aren’t does us more harm than good.

    It does us more good to say that differences in those traits don’t justify anger or feelings of superiority, or acting on them.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    We may just have to resign ourselves, as a species, to letting go of our lust for retribution, in order to create a world in which we all may live.

    I call that the burden of memory, that sense of historical grievance that people nurse in order to maintain their sense of solidarity and to provide them with self-validation.

    The Middle East is representative of that. The Arabs hate Israel and want to wipe it out. A significant chunk of Israelis seek their Eretz (or Greater) Israel that would encompass all of Gaza and the West Bank, with the Palestinians either living in their little “Bantustans” or being sent packing to Jordan and Egypt. The Syrians seek their “Greater Syria” which includes Lebanon. All these different people living practically cheek by jowl long for their own pathetic and parochial little visions that exclude their neighbors instead of realizing that they can achieve so much more by working together to build a better future for everyone there.

  • Sarah Braasch

    Excellent point, Tommykey, and beautifully expressed.

    I have long felt that the only real solution in Israel/Palestine is not a two state solution or a one state solution, but a one nation-state solution.

    I fear that a two state solution will lead only to endless confrontation, and a one state – two nation solution will be no better. Codifying tribalism is not a solution — look at what has happened in Lebanon, in Ethiopia, and the list goes on and on. And, constitutionalizing tribalism goes hand in hand with second class citizenship status for women. Because, of course, everyone has grandiose visions of outbreeding every other group and usurping power in a majoritarian democracy.

    But, a single nation-state with a secular Constitution, including a bill of rights and an independent judiciary, that recognizes only individual citizens on an equal basis, regardless of race or religion — this could be the foundation for real peace.

    Of course, all of my friends with connections and experience in Israel / Palestine tell me that I’m insane to think that that could ever be a real possibility.

    But, if no one ever suggests it, then it certainly won’t happen.

    I just don’t think separate but equal ever works in the long run. I know that people point to N. Ireland, but I could be more impressed with the progress there certainly.

    Anyhoo, before I ramble any further, others may be more knowledgeable about specific regions of the world than am I. Thanks again.

  • John Nernoff

    SB: In order for humanity to survive, the individual must rule….

    JN: Humanity doesn’t have to survive.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    John, that reminds me of a scene from the Battlestar Galactica episode Resurrection Ship Part 2, wherein the cylon Boomer tells Adama “Humanity never asked itself why it deserved to survive. Maybe you don’t.”

  • Thumpalumpacus

    But, a single nation-state with a secular Constitution, including a bill of rights and an independent judiciary, that recognizes only individual citizens on an equal basis, regardless of race or religion — this could be the foundation for real peace.

    The pessimist in me points out that this model only arose here in America after the bloodiest war in our history.

  • Polly

    Lynet pretty much made the point I was going to make.

  • David D

    Wonderful post. Thank you.

  • pat mott

    Hi Sarah, hard to keep track of even when only mildly inebriated, but good words. Wish your words could get to a larger forum.
    I guess it isn’t that difficult to believe that the relativly quiet girl across the room in english class can have this much wisdom to express. Keep it up.

  • Lorenzo

    Excellent stuff! Sometimes I wonder why this is so difficult to understand.

  • Vince Lauria

    I agree and am in sync with you, as many intelligent people are. I’ve written of my vision of community centers open to people like us, to function as sort of temporary tribes and resources to move us to consciousness three (identity with ALL of human kind). Then came the Net.

    But maybe we should invent a mind altering chemical and just put it in the water supplies of all of humanity, he said, despairingly.

    My writings can be seen in the forums at http://www.project-reason.org. Look for my “public living room” rants.


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