Why we just can’t all get along

The classic movie, “South Pacific,” is a powerful story of love and war set in the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific during World War II. The crux of the film is the song “You Have to be Carefully Taught,” which producers wanted to cut from the production.

Song writers Rodgers and Hammerstein were incredulous at the suggestion. The idea in the song was the entire message of the story: hatred and intolerance of people unlike ourselves. “You’ve got to be taught, to hate and fear, it’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear; You’ve got to be taught to be afraid, of people whose skin is a different shade; You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, to hate all the people your relatives hate.” Those are lines from the song. Hate those whose skin is another color.

In the present climate of suspicion, fear and divisiveness, I am powerfully reminded of how hatred and fear can affect even the most normally sane of people; but more so those people who thrive on and live for anger, hatred and vengeance. Fundamentalist radicals of ALL religions and sects have incited a lot of otherwise peaceful people to a bit of insanity.

I read on Facebook one person’s rant against the “towel heads,” and how we should wait for mosques to be full of Muslims and then bomb them. People talk of murdering the innocent and peace-loving of a population different from ours in the name of self-protection and God. Kill all those with views different than ours in the name of God. How is this different from what the extremist, militant Islamic groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS propose?

I know there are a bunch of you out there right now, fuming and sputtering about the innocent lives that were ended on that horrible day in September 2001 and attacks in Paris, London and in the United States. Calm down and reread what I wrote. There are extremist, radical, militant groups in the world whose intent is to kill as many Christians and Jews as possible. These people are our target, NOT the millions of peace loving Muslims who worship in their own way, with their own beliefs.

Religions of all kinds have relentlessly tried to convert the world to their brand of belief throughout history. I don’t dispute the fact that they try to do this in the name of salvation. Murder is another thing. The idea of “believe as I do, or I’ll kill you” is a cancerous sore on humanity that does not seem to heal. The Crusades come powerfully to mind. Couched in religious fervor, Christians and Muslims fought for nearly 200 years with ramifications that reach even into contemporary times.

How many African Americans, Hispanics, Jews or Muslims do you personally know? It is easy to hate an anonymous face. It’s easy to believe that “they” are all alike. How many religious or ethnic groups have we as a people hated?

We all know the unkind words that describe other races and religions. We all have our prejudices. Where did we learn those words and prejudices? Were we born knowing? No. We had to be taught to hate. It does not come naturally.

Do not perpetuate the culture of fear and hatred of others different from us. Become part of the solution, not an additional part of the problem.

Robyn Near is a Ripley resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com