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Letter From America: I Have Seen The Enemy!

"Hatred is never rational, is always beyond the reach of reason, and is the most common and widespread insanity.'' declares Ronnie Bray.

Imagine, if you will, two members of the Ku Klux Klan in company with a hundred others of their hellish compatriots breaking into the home of a black family in upstate New York and whipping them within an inch of their lives before setting fire to their home and burning a twenty foot high cross on their front lawn as a warning to other blacks that they are unwelcome in the USA.

On the drive home, they pull off their white hoods and notice that they are black. After recognising that they are the enemy, they also recognise that they have some serious thinking to do about their past murderous activities and their immediate and distant futures.

Far fetched? Perhaps, but something very much like this happened recently to two anti-Semitic thugs in Warsaw, Poland when childhood sweethearts and fellow hate-mongers Pawel and Ola did some family history research at Warsaw’s Jewish Historical Institute and discovered that they were, in fact, both Jewish.

While it is easier to hide one’s ancestry than it is to conceal one’s skin colour, the root causes of hatred for a class or colour of people are the same. The Klansman in the story is fictional, but the two Jewish anti-Jewish louts are real people that bought into the Nazi lies about Jews being the scum and scourge of the world – until they discovered they were Jewish, and then their conversion was immediate.

Hatred is never rational, is always beyond the reach of reason, and is the most common and widespread insanity. After discovering his racial origin, Pawl hated the face he saw in the mirror because it was the face of a Jew and he was looking at it with the mind of a Nazi. He had been one of the vicious skinheads that had attacked and severely beaten Jews in Poland for no better reason than that they were Jewish.

If anything could be worse than that, it is the fact that they carefully and brutally indoctrinated their two young children with their depraved religion of hatred for Jews, castigating Jews at every opportunity and blaming Jews for all that was wrong with Poland.

Whether the face in the mirror wagged its finger at Pawel we do not know, but the mean-spirited hoodlum had to change his ways, and so did Ola, his wife.

He confesses that the fact he was his own enemy almost drove him insane. What he ought to have recognised is that his discovery didn’t drive him mad, he was already stricken by the social madness, and the disclosure of his heritage actually drove him towards sanity. However, he says that not until he approached Poland’s Chief Rabbi, Michael Schudrich, after his anger and confusion had faded, did he come to terms with his situation.

They are now active in their local orthodox synagogue. Pawel is learning to be a kosher slaughterman and Ola supervises the synagogue’s kitchen.

Whether Pawel’s conversion is full-bodied or not, some might doubt, because of his saying, "I'm not saying that I don't have regrets but it's not something that I walk around and lash myself over. I feel sorry for those that I beat up. But I don't hold a grudge against myself."

While harbouring such sentiments, some believe he needs to express more substantial remorse for his wicked deeds against innocents that were on the receiving end of his unexpected and violent wrath.

It could be that as he attends the synagogue, learns the Torah, prays, and gets advice from his rabbi, that he will recognise that restoration is a requisite of repentance, and lead his sorrow for past acts to a deeper, more humane level. Spiritual cleansing cannot begin until the pain we feel for our misdeeds matches the pain we have intentionally caused to others.

Schudrich said: " … the human being has this unlimited capability of changing and sometimes even for the better."

I can’t help but imagine that hatred would disappear if each of us discovered that we were just like those we ill-treat, abuse, demean, disparage, and disregard as important targets for our own hatred of ourselves and will benefit only when we put the shoe is put on our other foot and courageously stand before a looking glass, remove our hoods, and confess "I have seen the enemy and it is me!"

Copyright © Ronnie Bray 2010






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