Ending modern wars driven by ancient wrongs

Adapted from an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, October 19, 2016.

Scratch below the surface of today’s territorial conflicts and you find leaders who evoke memories of their countries as past victims of aggression by others. Often these countries were once empires. They still lament over lost lands and faded imperial glory.

To justify China’s taking of islands far from its shores, for example, Chinese envoy Liu Xiaoming said last July: “Why do we care about these islands? China had been the victim of foreign aggression for over 100 years before the founding of [the People’s Republic of China in 1949].”

Or a leader might stoke the embers of ancient victimhood to divert attention, to stay in power, or to justify violence. The head of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, seeks to restore a medieval-period Islamic caliphate by savage means in order to end what he claims is a history of “humiliation, disgrace, degradation, subordination, loss, emptiness …” for Muslims.

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

'To Bless All Mankind'
To move beyond past wrongs
January 9, 2017

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.