Never doubt the power of the group experience! This is the Fourth Sacrament, that amazing energy that galvanizes a crowd at a football game, a victory march, or a rock concert. At certain moments we are gripped by a feeling of Oneness with our fellow mortals, a tremendous euphoria can burst forth, transcendent, transformational.
But, as with all the Sacraments there is a dark side, and this week HBO’s Oslo Diaries gave us that in depressing detail. 25 years ago Israeli President Rabin and PLO leader Arafat finally found some common ground for a peace plan, but amid so much hope and good will generated by these Oslo agreements there was also so much anger and bad feeling,
Nothing was more disturbing than to see Netanyahu, the leader of the Likud Party, answering Rabin’s statement that Israel had no mandate to rule the West Bank, with “the Bible is our mandate, the Bible is our deed!” What can you say to someone who believes that God has given them the right to live in a certain place based on something written thousands of years ago? It harkens back to the Manifest Destiny claims of our misguided ancestors who believed the Creator of the Universe interested Himself in our political affairs and favored our conquest of the Southwest from the benighted natives and Mexicans.
Actually there was something more disturbing in the Oslo Diaries: the rallies that year, where opponents of the peace accords packed the streets–fired-up, banner-waving zealots chanting “Death to Rabin!”, carrying coffins and nooses, burning Rabin’s picture while a smug Netanyahu looked on in approval. This was the Dark Side in earnest, calling to mind the crowds at a Mussolini tirade or a Hitler harangue or—let’s say it– a Trump rally with people chanting “Lock her up!” or mocking reporters in a cage, led by a self-aggrandizing, self-satisfied hate-monger.
Could we all agree that we don’t want to live in a world where people chant “Death” to anyone? Or make a hero of an assassin? But of course, in their view Rabin’s killer was doing God’s work. Rabin wanted to give the West Bank back to the Palestinians and remember: “The Bible is our deed” to the West Bank. So the question is, how would you convince someone the Bible is not a deed?
Reason: I find it impossible to believe God told someone what to write word-for-word.
Zealot: You don’t have to believe it. I believe it.
Reason: But you want me to support your claim that you own this land where someone else is now living.
Zealot: You don’t have to support me. I have a gun. I will defend what God has given me.
This is the definition of madness.