Was Sampson the first Suicide Bomber?

Education, defines Arnold Toynbee, is the process of inculcating the values of a society in its members.  As a child reared in the fifties and sixties my generation was taught fairness.  In Sunday school and at home we were taught to return lost items to its rightful owner.  We were taught that it was wrong to keep extra change when the cashier made an error.  We were taught it was wrong to bully.  Contemporary and biblical stories were told in Sunday school to indoctrinate “Christian values” of fairness.

In the sixties and seventies we transitioned from childhood to adulthood.  Hypocrisy was intolerable.  The words of Jefferson and Lincoln, and the bible did not match reality.  The doctrine of fairness clashed with the practice of discrimination, and the civil rights movement grew.  An undeclared war was being fought against a people not against an evil force bent on our invasion.  And an anti-war movement grew.

The South African government imposed apartheid on the majority.  Its diplomatic corps projected pictures of white settlers in covered wagons exploring the wilderness and developing the land.  The white domination of the indigenous was equated.  Like John Wayne had asserted, “We won the land from the injuns fair and square.”  The boers were rightful owners of the nation they built.  Americans rejected the equation and joined the world in divestment and via resolution insisted on fairness.

There was a spirit of nationalism in the fifties, sixties and seventies.  Americans asserted their righteousness and assumed an air of superiority. Some of us were made to reflect on our image – the ugly American.

There persists a muddled view of fairness never confronted in Sunday school.  Bible stories recount the Jews are the chosen people.  Frequently they were victims.  Sometimes the punishment was for their wickedness.  The New Testament emphasized the concept of love and forgiveness.  But nowhere in Sunday school was it put forth that the chosen ones must also be fair.

Sampson rendered helpless by his enemies walked among them and in his death killed more Philistines than in his life.  Judges 16:30

Go back to Sunday school, America,  for all of the world sees an unfairness amidst a tragedy for which we will all suffer.

© 2006

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