Thursday, January 26, 2006

While we were fighting among ourselves

Jordon Cooper posted a link to the Eight Stages of Genocide, a framework created Gregory H. Stanton when he was working at the State Department in 1996. From the Genocide Watch web site:

Genocide is a process that develops in eight stages that are predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it. The later stages must be preceded by the earlier stages, though earlier stages continue to operate throughout the process.

The eight stages are:
  • Classification

  • Symbolization

  • Dehumanization

  • Organization

  • Polarization

  • Preparation

  • Extermination

  • Denial
Of particular interest, is this from the definition of classification:
All cultures have categories to distinguish people into "us and them" by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi. Bipolar societies that lack mixed categories, such as Rwanda and Burundi, are the most likely to have genocide.

The main preventive measure at this early stage is to develop universalistic institutions that transcend ethnic or racial divisions, that actively promote tolerance and understanding, and that promote classifications that transcend the divisions. The Catholic church could have played this role in Rwanda, had it not been riven by the same ethnic cleavages as Rwandan society. Promotion of a common language in countries like Tanzania or Cote d'Ivoire has also promoted transcendent national identity. This search for common ground is vital to early prevention of genocide. (emphasis mine)
Oh what a damning sentence: The Catholic Church could have played this role . . .

If the Church is to live up to its own story, we must find a unity that is not based on agreeing on externals, but on commitment to the real core of the faith. Too much from those at the various extremes of Catholic opinion are just baptized versions of some recognizable secular positions. We will have no traction in a postmodern world, if we are fighting old battles that nobody else cares about, not even God. This is not just a matter of wasting our own time or effort. There are lives at stake here.

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