Violence is a distortion of the aggressive impulse. The basic energy of the self is creative and self assertive; violence is a reaction to the frustration of this impulse. If a man is fired from a job, for example, or divorced, he may lapse into a life of bitterness and rage or he may take the energy and build a new life with it. Many productive lives are built on the ashes of failure and disappointment.
At the risk of making a trivial comment about an excellent post and fascinating book, I have only one small objection to the “Tenth Parallel.”
In the notes section Griswold acknowledges a couple of articles by Professor Berger and spells his name correctly. In the acknowledgement section she acknowledges Walter Russell Mead but spells his name incorrectly (she spells it “Meade”)
This mistake should be corrected.
One other thing; with his recent trip to Indonesia, American newspapers have been filled with articles about what a moderate if not progressive Muslim nation Indonesia is. Anyone who reads Ms Griswold’s book will learn that the form of Islam practiced in Indonesia is increasingly strident and is far less moderate than the dimwitted reporters writing for papers like the New York Times would have their readers believe.
I’ve always enjoyed your writing, Mr. Berger.
In your 4th point you’ve touched on something I think about frequently: how does “good” get accomplished – and sustained?
This is a rather old posting but I still felt the need to comment. The article speaks of the objective of Operation Christmas Child in distributing gifts as “repulsive”…”using toys to seduce hospitalized children.” Seduce children? That does sound reprehensible.
Operation Christmas Child is a part of Samaritan’s Purse International Relief. Operation Christmas Child’s mission is “to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.” Over 8 million children received these “presents” last year but I don’t know how many children were seduced as a result.
I am glad that, though you find such Charity “repulsive” and “distasteful,” you can still argue that it is “less reprehensible than killing children in an air attack on a hospital.” I think the children and even the outraged staff might agree with you.
Professor Berger I have read much of your work and am grateful for your impressive contributions to the field. Griswold’s “The 10th Parallel” is an interesting look into one region of the world which has unfortunately been the breeding ground for radical violence, inappropriately shrouded in religious differences. Yet we know these differences are but a social construct. This gives hope for a new, peaceful social construct in the future along the 10th parallel, or anywhere people divide themselves. Egypt and Sudan are such examples.
While Huntington’s thesis has been perceived as prophetic in a post-9/11 world, it remains an inductive argument at best, and an instigator of violence itself at worst. Since most humans beings, as you acknowledge, prefer to live in peace, perhaps humanity is best served by theories that promote peaceful living, rather than Othering.