The murders of children in Norway the week before last by a religious (this time Christian) fundamentalist is unfortunately (to say the least) nothing new.
On November 4th, 1995, a religious (this time Jewish) fundamentalist murdered Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin as he (Rabin) was on the brink of achieving peace with the Palestinians. The following poem was written shortly thereafter by Marge Piercy. It is compelling every time I read it:
The Fundamental Truth
The Christian right, Islamic Jihad,
the Jewish right bank settlers bringing
the Messiah down, the Japanese sects
who worship by bombing subways,
they all hate each other
but more they hate the mundane,
ordinary people who love living
more than dying in radiant glory,
who shuffle and sigh and bake bread.
They need a planet of their own,
perhaps even a barren moon
with artificial atmosphere,
where they will surely be nearer
to their gods and their fiercest
enemies, where they can kill
to their heart’s peace
kill to the last standing man
and leave the rest of us be.
Not mystics to whom the holy
comes in the core of struggle
in a shimmer of blinding quiet,
not scholars haggling out the inner
meaning of gnarly ancient sentences.
No, the holy comes to these zealots
as a license to kill, for self doubt
and humility have dried like mud
under their marching feet.
They have far more in common
with each other, these braggarts
of hatred, the iron hearted
in whose ear a voice spoke
once and left them deaf.
Their faith is founded on death
of others, and everyone is other
to them, whose Torah is splattered
in letters of blood.