We hear a great deal about ‘hate crimes’ that sometimes strike a trivial note, then something dreadful like yesterday’s mass slaughter at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, happens and we understand what hatred really means. It is not ‘mere’ prejudice or dislike translated into boorish behaviour. It is murderous — nothing less than the desire to kill, destroy, and inflict deadly harm. It is difficult even to think about such a thing, but think we must because the kind of violence displayed in Squirrel Hill is no different from that displayed by Islamist terrorists or any other individual or group that believes it has the right to exterminate others. The President of the United States of America is on record as saying that had the synagogue had armed guards, the massacre would not have occurred. To me, that sounds absurd. Surely, we should be trying to create a culture, indeed a world, where violence is unacceptable? If our default position is, we need guns to defend ourselves, we should not be surprised if those with criminal intent take us at our word and use the very same means to do us harm.

This morning we pray with and for our Jewish brethren and all who have been victims of hatred and persecution. For me, there is something peculiarly horrible about an attack on people praying in a church, mosque, synagogue or other place of worship. It is a profanation of the holy name of God, destruction of what God holds most precious — human beings. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God of the living, and we honour him best by honouring those he has created in in his own image and likeness. Let us remember that, however much provoked we may be.


14 thoughts on “Hatred”

  1. We give thanks for your desire to share God’s message of love daily..our hearts are struck with the evil at the Tree of Life Synagogue..may God forgive us all.

  2. Last Saturday 36 people killed in Afghanistan, no blogs written by any one. Suddenly American/European people get killed and that too in less numbers. Lots of prayers offered and blogs being written

    • I cannot answer for everyone, only for myself. If you do a search on my blog, you will see that I have written about Afghanistan and violence against Muslims and mosques, both there and in other parts of the world. If you look at the monastery Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/benedictinenuns, you will see that we have frequently included Muslims in our prayers, e.g. our prayer intentions for 20 and 21 October were:

      Today we pray for those living with the threat of violence, for their protection and safety; for the great Powers of the world to think long and hard before exposing us to more nuclear weapons; for an end to sectarian violence, especially in Kaduna state, Nigeria; for the Hondurans and all who are drawn to leave their homeland in search of a better life for themselves and their children; for those trying to find a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; for those whose marriages are in difficulties; those locked in family feuds; all who are not free. We give thanks for all that today holds. May we learn to be truly grateful.

      Today, we pray for those killed/injured in the train crash near Amritsar; for the protection of young and vulnerable people, especially those subject to grooming and abuse; for the protection of those taking part in the elections in Afghanistan; for an end to corruption, violence and political repression; for those starving to death in Yemen; those who are sick or in care; those whose ability to cope is reduced; we pray for those beginning their half-term holiday and those with the responsibility for looking after them; and we give thanks, as always, for the blessing of a new day and the opportunities it offers. May we use it wisely and well, and all to the glory of God.

      When there is violence against Christians, I sometimes write about it; sometimes not. What I have never done is to ask my Jewish or Muslim friends to condemn it or write about it because I know they feel as I do about the wrongness of sectarian violence. I wrote about the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh (and I have no idea what religion, if any, the perpetrator professes to believe) because it prompted some thoughts about hatred and violence. I condemn both, and I hope you will, too.

      • I have been following your communities FB page for a while and no denying that the prayer intentions include a wide range of people from all parts of the world. That’s commendable. I can understand that the 36 deaths in Afghan will get no attention in Europe/America as the media won’t report (makes me think if, for developed nations, the people in underdeveloped countries are no greater than animals) they and a European will feel will emotionally closer to America. So one cannot be blamed if they feel 11 deaths in the synagogue is greater than 36 in Afghan.
        But I’m glad Pope’s Sunday prayers try to include all parts of the world.

        • I don’t agree with you that Europeans think Afghanis are animals (if I have understood your sentence correctly). I have explained why I wrote about the synagogue shooting. We seem to be working on parallel lines here.

          • Definitely a book! Parallel lines meet in infinity. If it were me I would take this discussion as a nudge, it is going nowhere. But exhausting nevertheless.

          • Take the below case
            Donald Trump’s description of undocumented immigrants as people, he tweeted, who would “pour into and infest our Country, INFEST??
            I am an Indian and I know how the British treated its colonies. They were worse than today’s ISIS.
            The great Winston Churchill once said “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.
            I do see in social media everyday how so many westerners treat third world people.
            You are a nun and you may be treating people as God’s children and thats the not the case with most of the people

          • I hold no brief for the opinions of Donald Trump or Winston Churchill. I’m white British myself, but one of my great-aunts by marriage was Indian. She and her husband had to come to Britain after Independence because of the way they were treated by Indians! My point in mentioning that is because I believe that if anyone wants an excuse to hate, they will find one — but it may not fit the facts. I’m a historian by training, so I care about facts. I find that most people are kindly, decent, generous. I’m sorry that has not been your personal experience, but maybe if you were less inclined to condemn others, you might find them different from what you assume. This conversation is now closed. May God bless you!

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