LETTER: A better place for all of us

Being of Scottish descent, I am a proud Highlander at heart, but my clan, are known for their skulduggery over the centuries...

Being of Scottish descent, I am a proud Highlander at heart, but my clan, the MacDonells of Glengarry (in the Great Glen), are known for their skulduggery over the centuries, particularly after the fall of the chief of Clan Donald as the Lord of the Isles in 1495.

The stories of plundering neighbouring clans could fill volumes and the history of MacDonells in clan warfare as far back as the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 show how barbaric we were in battle – all the way to the Battle of Culloden in 1746, when the clan system was destroyed forever.

While Highlanders were seemingly marginalized 268 years ago many are now waiting to see the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum, which could be viewed as a form of “revenge.”

Interestingly enough, my clan motto is, “Buillean an diugh tuiream am mairach, a Chlann”, which means “Revenge! Revenge today and mourning tomorrow, Clan Donald,” a way of thinking that came about after 1495.

Revenge is the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.

And columnist Mark Rushton’s “On the Other Hand” in the Sept. 10 edition of The News (“Freedom from fear a goal worth pursuing”), regarding the 13th anniversary of 9/11, made me think that what most people feel was an act of terrorism was really another delayed act of revenge by a group of Islamic extremists, who persist today under various acronyms seeking revenge for what they feel has been a degradation of their faith and their pervasiveness over a large part of the world.

When one looks back in history, it becomes easier to understand why.

Most people do not know that both Christianity and Islam share a historical and traditional connection as well as a common origin, but have strong theological differences. But it is the extended periods of warfare that seem to overshadow the centuries of peaceful co-existence.

With the spread of Christianity prior to, during and after the Roman Empire, resulting in the Islamic faith developing as a way that the Arabic peoples could counter what they felt was a poorly founded theological base trying to supersede their perspective, the Islamic faith rose in the seventh century to a high level of strength only to see the Crusades and the Mongol empire attempt to crush their caliphate. It was the Turks who would push Arabic ways back, suppressing them under the Ottoman Empire until the end of World War I.

With two imperialistic European empires cutting the Middle East into British and French protectorates after World War I in 1918, many Muslims sought a return to the glory years of the Islamic caliphate before being invaded by the “Christian” armies of several European nations.

And with the takeover of “world policing” by the United States after World War II, many former protectorates gained their independence or nationhood, only to find American imperial interests seemingly replacing those of the French and the British.

But with the creation of the Zionist state of Israel in 1948 once the British mandate had expired, a new round of conflict rose – one that continues to this day.  While some Islamic nations seek governance by democracy, others prefer total Islamic control with various groups moving to the forefront to get their message out.

They want all states in the Middle East under Islamic control and many have been fighting for that goal since the early 1950s. Whether it was Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s and early 2000s or the group now known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as it is also called, there will always be a small group of perverted fundamental Muslims who seek revenge and a return to when the Islamic world was wide-spread and powerful.

It seems that a group of misguided people who feel suppressed have adopted my clan’s motto, but they need to be reminded of the Code of Hammurabi, the King of Babylon (1792-1750 B.C.) and how it has been addressed over the centuries not only in the Bible but by the Lebanese philosopher, artist, poet and writer, Khalil Gibran, a Maronite Christian, who strongly believed in the fundamental unity of religions. He is known for the saying, “An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind.”

So perhaps it is “time we should take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne,” to paraphrase Scotland’s greatest poet, Robbie Burns.

It is time to settle our theological and ideological differences and review the religious-based, business-based or military-based interests that non-Muslim nations have in areas of the world where the Islamic faith is predominant, and learn to live in peace and harmony after more than a thousand years of strife and misery.

Fifty-two years ago, my twin brother provoked me, and I struck out at him, only to hit the china plate that he was holding for defence. I cut the side of my hand open from my baby finger to my wrist, freaking my poor mother out at the sight of all the blood.

Today, my 68-year-old twin brother is in a care home suffering from dementia.  I have long forgiven my brother for bugging me as we both are now alone without our parents and I have long ago learned to love him.

We all don’t have that much time on this planet, and this planet may not have that much time left either.  Let’s all try to make it a better place for all of us.


G.E. MacDonell