By MARGARET BROWN
NOTHING STAYS the same and when one leaves home, like a snake sheds its skin, so one goes out vulnerable and unhardened by experience.
From infancy, memories – good or bad – are filed away deep in the subconscious, until something happens to remind us, with various results. Fortunately, most people develop a civilising veneer that represses unsociable behaviour and allows peaceful co-existence. Unless our self-esteem is pricked or passions rudely challenged, we can rub along even in the company of those we dislike: but this is not so where politics or religion are concerned.
The present polarisation of religious belief marked by wars between Jew, Christian and Muslim, in countries that, until recently, have co-existed, if reluctantly, indicate that bitter memories from centuries ago have never died.
As recorded in the Old Testament Book of Exodus, God gave to Abraham and his son Isaac the land of Canaan for their Jewish descendants, as long as they kept their covenant with God. Ishmael, born to Abraham by a slave girl, 14 years before Isaac, would, according to an angel of God, “live in hostility to all his brothers.”
Each of Ishmael’s 12 sons settled on land from the Persian Gulf to the Egyptian border, becoming leaders of the 12 tribes of Arabia: during the sixth century AD, Muhammad became their political and religious leader, whom they believed to be the last of God’s Prophets.
In AD626 bitter war broke out between Jew and Muslim. The Christian crusades against the Arabs followed, which lasted from AD1095 until 1272. Like memories acquired and hidden away, what is happening in the Middle East today may be traced back to Abraham’s two sons. Bush and Blair rode to war in Iraq brandishing their Christian faith, conveniently forgetting that Christ came to earth as the God of peace