Dehumanization the root of conflict, unrest

Vision for reconciled community without victimization, hatred

Salim Munayer envisions a reconciled community where dehumanization and victimization do not exist.

Munayer is the director of Musalaha reconciliation ministry in Israel and Palestine and an instructor at Bethlehem and Galilee Bible College in Jerusalem, Israel.

Munayer, along with Associate Professor of Reconciliation Studies Brenda Salter McNeil and Professor of Theology Kerry Dearborn, spoke to an audience of roughly 50 about his vision for reconciliation on April 24 during a forum titled, “The Moral Vision for Reconciliation.”

The forum was part of the John Perkins 10th Annual Lecture, “For Such A Time As This: The Challenges and Hope of Reconciliation.”

“The purpose of believers is to form a community of faith where…the goodness of the human god is not only going to be [demonstrated] by word but also by deed,” Munayer said.

According to Munayer, dehumanization is a significant problem when it comes to reconciliation.

“We want to build the self-esteem of our ethnic group up by putting other groups down,” he said.

Munayer described dehumanization as a sin that denies and violates the understanding that every human being is created in God’s image.

“Radical hate dehumanizes…We are sinning against God the Creator,” he said. “We need to deal with dehumanization by countering prejudice with new knowledge and relations.”

 For Munayer, people have to be willing to respect the other side if they want to reconcile these problems.

“Look critically into historical narrative, and ask ‘how do we contribute to the conflict,’” he said.

Munayer described victimization as another obstacle on the road to reconciliation.

“People have this fatalistic view…living in a situation that can’t change leads to entitlement.”

According to Munayer, entitlement leads to resentment and conflict that communities need to work together to change.

“Each community needs to rise to the challenge,” he said.

Salter McNeil and Dearborn concurred with Munayer.

Salter McNeil believes that people need to work as a community and rise to the challenge to reconcile with one another.

“What do you want, what is your vision?” she asked the audience.

For Salter McNeil, it is possible for people to want change while holding no vision of what that change looks like—something that leads to chaos.

“A movement without vision is a dangerous thing,” she said.

Dearborn expanded on Salter McNeil’s remarks, saying that certain visions can be more harmful than not.

“There’s no evil so evil that does its work in the name of God,” she said.

Dearborn advised the audience to look to the Holy Spirit for guidance in their vision.

“The Holy Spirit acts as a solvent…It awakens a new understanding,” she said.

Dearborn pointed out that while most people have a warped moral vision around strangers, Jesus was once a stranger.

“When we look at a stranger, can we really see God is in them?” she said.

Dearborn said theology has become a justification for hatred in the world. Munayer believes that hatred can be changed.

“It doesn’t take many people to [make a] difference,” Munayer said. “Jesus started with 12.”

This article was posted in the section News.

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