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Letter: A new mind-set in Mideast

Letter writer Walt Carlson laments that the “Islamists must fight with each other because it is encoded in their genetic makeup” due to transgenerational epigenetic inheritance (Monitor, June 17).

This may be a cause for concern, but it can also be a cause for optimism.

In the 17th century, the Chinese felt the Mongols would always choose war, but then they were converted to Buddhism. Then their propensity for war turned to untold kindness. In the fourth century, the Germanic barbarians attacked the Romans without mercy but then they too were converted to Christianity. Soon the whole of formerly backward and pagan Europe was thoroughly Christian.

If “transgenerational epigenetic inheritance” is real, it would seem that once one generation is cured, this scourge of paranoia and hatred will be gone forever! Our government leaders love to tell us that “(the Arab people) started it.” True enough. But we should remember the blessings of America are also our responsibility. Our nation was founded on Christian principles. Three-thousand years ago, “an eye for an eye” made sense. But God saw how that philosophy was blinding the whole world. Then His son came and taught untold forgiveness.

This philosophy could only really take hold in a new geographical area devoid of old prejudices. This area was Europe.

I agree it will be tough to end the propensity for war in the Arab world. But one thing that will be needed is a new mind-set. This mind-set exists here in America. All we need to do now is implement it.

ERIC DENISON

Holderness

Legacy Comments5

If I may, "transgenerational epigenetic inheritance" is a bit much for me to get my head around; and I'm pretty sure religion is the overlay (excuse) behind much of this violence. As female genital mutilation in Egypt and the burqa in Afghanistan long predate Islam, so do the ingrained 'friend of my friend' and 'enemy of my enemy' alliance/conflict systems. I don't have any clever solutions, but I know it makes sense to think about those societies in a more multi-layered way.

All major religions have advanced through reformations throughout history. All but Islam, hence the literal translation of the Koran by extremists.

What reformation accounts for the actions (sometimes violent) of the Haredim in Israel against other Jews who don't understand the Torah in the same way they do? Which reformation is responsible for the centuries of hatred between Serbs and Croats who are really the same people except for the way they cross themselves? And I suppose you can cite the reformation that causes periodic anti-Muslim violence by Hindu extremists in India. You can, can't you? Or the reformation that drove numbers of religious refugees to New Hampshire from Bhutan?

Eric...while I can see your appreciation for Christianity in your letter, I cannot agree. Islam has existed since the seventh century. The Koran dictates that Muslims never kill another Muslim-yet they have fought each other for 1300 years. It is extremely unlikely that having fought Christians, they would embrace Christianity. Also, while America definitely has a mind-set of democracy, the so-called 'Arabs' have a mind-set guided by their 'transgenerational epigenetic inheritance'. And, as long a their religious leaders push the Muslim 'believers' to kill their brother Muslims, the wars will continue.

12th century mindset with 21st century technology is a dangerous mix. That is the real threat.

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