NPR was running a very interesting segment this morning on Vietnam. They interviewed one man in particular, who was a survivor of the My Lai massacre. One thing he said that I found powerful was he said “I don’t hate Americans, just the Americans that did this.” I would certainly understand if he hated all of us Americans, and I hope and pray that someday he may grow to forgive us, maybe even those of us who killed his entire family. That is no easy thing to forgive, and it’s easy for me to request forgiveness when I have experienced nothing close to a fraction of the horror he has experienced, but I guess I pray for a world where there are no unforgiven.
What that made me think, though, was the amount of energy that Americans spend hating other people. This is a generalization, I realize, and I am in no way implying that everyone thinks this way, but it just seems to me that if one person of a certain race, religion, country, or sexual orientation does something wrong to us as a people, maybe even something close to unforgivable, we spend so much energy hating everyone else that shares that trait. The amount of t-shirts, bumper stickers, books, radio programs, and tv shows that we have justifying and broadcasting this hate that we have is just astounding sometimes (all I have to say is, freedom fries). And all because of the actions of a few. Sometimes I can really understand why the rest of the world views us as the rich teenage spoiled brat who has incredibly strong emotions that we have no idea how to handle, with an incredible potential for passion and beauty if we would just grow up already.