Why do they hate us? The Elephant in the Living Room

Via Roger Wolsey
on Nov 27, 2010
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Hostages were taken at the U.S. embassy in Iran.  Someone attempted to bomb the World Trade Center.  The U.S.S. Cole was attacked.  The World Trade Centers were destroyed.  A teenager in Oregon just attempted to bomb a Christmas tree lighting event.

We’ve responded by launching some missiles and waging war in two countries, killing many more people, and getting even more people upset with us.

Even though it may be considered “unAmerican,” it’s time to address the elephant in the living room. What is it about the U.S. that causes people to hate us so? What things could we do to reduce such hatred?

It seems to me that spending time on these questions is the only way to effectively “fight the war on terror.”



About Roger Wolsey

Roger Wolsey is a free-spirited GenX-er who thinks and feels a lot about God and Jesus. He’s a progressive Christian who identifies with people who consider themselves as being “spiritual but not religious.” He came of age during the “Minneapolis sound” era and enjoyed seeing The Replacements, The Jayhawks, Husker Du, The Wallets, Trip Shakespeare, Prince, and Soul Asylum in concert—leading to strong musical influences to his theology. He earned his Masters of Divinity degree at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. Roger is an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and he currently serves as the director of the Wesley Foundation campus ministry at C.U. in Boulder, CO. He was married for ten years, divorced in 2005 and now co-parents a delightful 10-year old son. Roger loves live music, hosting house concerts, rock-climbing, yoga, centering prayer, trail-running with his dog Kingdom, dancing, camping, riding his motorcycle, blogging, and playing his trumpet in ska bands and music projects. He's recently written a book Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don't like christianity


23 Responses to “Why do they hate us? The Elephant in the Living Room”

  1. Jay says:

    educate our enemy and the citizens of the third world islamic nations…

  2. LasaraAllen says:

    How about we start by educating OURSELVES about our perceived enemy?

  3. Roger Wolsey says:

    Phillip, re: "something happened around that time that caused Arabs and Muslims to decide that American and the west really did not have their best interests…." Indeed. That something was in 1953 when our CIA deposed the democratically elected leader of Iran and replaced him with the Shah.

  4. Roger Wolsey says:

    Phillip, oh, and the creation of the modern State of Israel in 1948 may've had something to do with it too.

  5. Nicely stated. Your comment "We do not really question anything" is a great string to pull. I believe we have not been taught the art of questioning. Our schools have abandoned the value of learning to question, and do not teach the art of inquiry. We are fed data and propaganda and questioning is discouraged. It is ironic that one of the most attacked personalities today is Glenn Beck who repeats every other day, "Question with boldness."

    In mediation I can always tell when someone is not playing in good faith — they are the ones who resist the need to question themselves and their premises, they are the ones who resist questions intended to shed light on the dispute.

  6. Nonsense. It would be good for you to study the history of Islam before making such uninformed statements. Start with understanding the Muslim invasion of Europe long before the modern era. Good to have at least a passing sense of history.

  7. Roger Wolsey says:

    Taming, You're comparing apples and oranges (the U.S. with Jesus/Buddha). But, actually, comparing the U.S. to either Jesus or Buddha may be a worthwhile train of thought. I'd recommend focusing on how the U.S. conveys and/or manifesting (or fails to convey or manifest) love, truth, and compassion.

  8. BenRiggs says:

    see reply below:

  9. Ah, yes. American just went in and started Israel. Might want to check out that history as well.

  10. BenRiggs says:

    I think our refusal to question, which is a polite way of saying our irresponsibility rests at the core of the issue… Our leaders are not dictators; we put them there! So every foreign policy decision has our signature on it. We buy ridiculous slogans that mean nothing, such as hope and change, and as Noam Chomsky says, we sit by and watch dismissively as Mr. Hope & Change brings in the same old people to fill his cabinet posts!
    Our in-ability to question has its roots in our educational system, and in my opinion has to do with the minimization of philosophy, both in standard and higher educational systems! We do not know how to question, as "taming author greg" said above. So it would seem that educating ourselves is at the core of the problem, as Lasara Allen says above.

  11. LasaraAllen says:

    Whoops, didn't read this before posting the above. Thanks for being on it. peace.

  12. LasaraAllen says:

    A reintroduction of critical thinking into curricula nationwide would be a big win, indeed!

  13. BenRiggs says:

    I agree it would be a huge victory to reintroduce critical thinking to our curriculum, but we could go further…

  14. While Christians do have some grasp of the origins of hate, I believe Buddhists have an even better understanding.

    Can it be resolved with simple self introspection? No. But it can be resolved with intense meditation and actions that are poorly labeled as spiritual warfare. It involves discovery of karmic causes and conditions that comprise this present moment but it is a unique type of discovery… it is at once an inspection and a purification, it is vanishing unwanted causes and conditions through a very intense type of meditative witnessing. The practice of tonglen touches the edges of this more intense practice.

    Ben, you are right in saying it is a projection of conflict within us, but the conflict within us is a karmic imprint of original conflict. We have a kind of spiritual feedback loop that is difficult but not impossible to break.

  15. Colin Wiseman says:

    Fully agree. Until everyone in our own countries, USA and Britain, stops being racist and small minded how can we ever ask for anyone else to be the same. That is the hardest thing we will ever face as people are inherently small minded – only a small few have broken the genetic pattern.

  16. candicegarrett says:

    If I had to guess? Because Americans feel that "we" have to fix the rest of the world and make them just like "us.' Maybe because so many other countries are occupied by our military. Because we are viewed as only participating in skirmishes that will somehow benefit our country and not participating in those that would better human rights (let's all look at Africa, shall we?). I would start the converstaion there and see where it goes.

  17. The problem to which you fall prey is the idea that peacemakers must be appeasers, that they must appease in the face of evil. That is not the case.

    Not Cesar Chavez, Hugo Chavez. And, yes, Che was a cold blooded murderer who used to shoot political prisoners point blank in the head. Sorry to burst that bubble and wreck the hip clothing trend. Spread some blood on the t-shirts and it would be a more accurate fashion statement. (And, yes, I do know personally those who were tortured and fled Cuba during those days.)

  18. Lasara, that is silly. Islamic countries are "retaliating" because Israel receives funding?

    You seriously need to catch up on history.

  19. Candice. Our military "occupies" so many countries? Are you kidding? Maybe you could be more specific about the occupation. Does anyone bother with the facts anymore? Or is propaganda all we need to arrive at sound policy?

  20. Roger Wolsey says:

    I suspect Candice didn't mean "occupied" but instead that the U.S. has a staggering number of bases in other countries. This is a way of helping ensure our empire's dominance, even if merely by threat. see: http://www.alternet.org/story/47998

  21. BrotherRog says:

    Mr. Peabody and Sherman Travel WayBack to 1953 – A History of Iraq http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpgJzlY9y8A