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The healing of fanaticism

Posted October. 23, 2019 07:36,   

Updated October. 23, 2019 07:36


Voices are echoed afar for reconciliation and coexistence even when hatred and animosity run amok. Israeli writer Amos Oz, the winner of the Park Kyung-ni Literature Award in 2015, was one of those with such voices. He cautioned strongly against Jewish fanaticism, which has driven Palestinians out of the land while defining them as evil. When he was alive, his first and foremost concern was to figure out how to address the issue.

He shared his major concern with German audience in 2002 by telling them a story of one of his friends, Israeli writer Sami Michael. While being in a long-haul taxi, Michael heard the driver abruptly saying that Arab people deserve to be killed off. He managed to stop himself from confronting the driver about his comment and asked, “Who would kill them off then?” “Each of us should make our contributions to mass slaughter,” answered the driver. Shocked by the answer, Michael went on to say, “Let’s suppose that you knock the door in your area of responsibility to see if there are any Arabs and successfully kill them off. When your mission is complete, you go down the stairs and hear a crying baby. Then, would you go upstairs to get rid of him?” Taken aback, the driver said, “You are such a horrible person.”

The reason why Oz told the audience this anecdote was that fanatic believers lack imagination. Just as Michael let the driver picture a crying baby in their mind, instilling imagination into the minds of fanatics can help restore their human qualities to some degree. He believed that it can be of some help even if it may be hard to treat the pathology of fanaticism overnight. He never gave up on his hopes until he passed away in 2018. That is why we need more people who can relate to Oz’s message amid the ever-rising fanaticism.