The most frequently read post on this blog by far is the post Why do abused children become abusers? Why, I asked, are a disproportionate number of abusers people who have themselves been abused? Would you not think that they, above all, would know how painful and destructive it is? The key explanation seems to be that we don’t learn kindness and love through negative example. We need to learn how to love from positive experience – at least from one other person in our lives for however short a time.
I have reflected on this fact again several times this week but especially this morning when I read that Israeli pathologists have announced that the Palestinian teenager kidnapped and murdered in an apparent revenge attack following the kidnapping and murder of 3 Israeli boys last week, was burned alive. Not just murdered. Murdered in what must have been excruciating agony.
Would you not think that every Jew in the land, above all, would shudder at the horror of this act? This is a people living in a land returned to them after the Holocaust, in which up to 8 million Jews were put into gas chambers for no other reason than that they were Jews. This is a people whose by-word is “Never Again!”
This is not to suggest that the majority of the Israelis support this ghastly revenge. I strongly suspect that the majority are as appalled as I am.
But how could there be a single Israeli who feels that this act is not abhorrent?
I think it is because kindness and love are not learned simply because one sees how terrible hatred and abuse can be. Unfortunately, there is in all of us an instinctive desire for what we blindly call “justice,” a “tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye.”
But history shows us it doesn’t work. The legacy is bitterness and anger and an unending cycle of revenge.
It will not bring peace.