political love

Author Chris Hedges, of the book War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning was inteviewed in a recent edition of NOW with Bill Moyers.. This exchange occured:

MOYERS: How do you explain the phenomenon that while we venerate and mourn our own dead from say 9-11, we’re curiously indifferent about those we’re about to kill.

HEDGES: Because we dehumanize the Other. We fail to recognize the divinity of all human life. We— our own victims are the only victims that hold worth. The victims of the Other are sort of the regrettable cost of war. There is such a moral dichotomy in war…

I found myself agreeing, but strangely unsatisfied. It took a few minutes to figure out why.

Dehumanization is only half the story. Yes, it goes on even now, subtler than our “Get the Japs” posters of WW II. But humanization is work, too.

It’s not entirely natural for most people to “recognize the divinity” of every human being. It takes some work for us, or some event. I think the impact of 9/11 was so global because it was a massively visual event, and it happened where there were many people with cameras in the street.

There are other ways to cultivate “recognition of divinity of all human life.” I think the simplest is to dwell on it. To practice political love for everyone. Not neccesarily a sentimental or romantic love, but the simple decency called forth by the divinity of those around you. Practice political love, and continually expand the circle of those you give it to. Question your reasons for not giving it.

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