Perhaps the greatest gift of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book Infidel is her ability to show how we are trained by society and religion, and how most of us cling to our clan and the resulting damage that may do.
She breaks free of her upbringing.
One of her jobs in Holland is to translate from Somali. One day she is trying to explain to a teacher in Holland why a Somali child hit another who stuck his tongue out at him. She writes, "Doing this was completely congruent with his upbringing. In Somalia, you attack. You hit first. If you wait to be hit, you will be bullied more. I was taught that too." Ayaan explains to the teacher. "Where we come from, aggression is a survival tactic: we teach our children to hit first."
"The teacher looked at me as though I was mad. She explained that if all the children were allowed to hit each other, then it would be survival of the fittest: the strongest would bully the others. And the parents nodded. This satisfied them, because they wanted their child to be the strongest."
Ayaan then explains to the Somali parents. "Look, in Holland, if you hit people, then they think something is wrong with you. Here, they solve disagreements by talking. If your son continues to hit, he will be taken to a place where the children are mentally unwell, to be treated for an illness."
"So then they listened. They made all sorts of agreements and arrangements to meet again. When the meeting ended, all three of them, (the teacher and the two parents) said how illuminating it had been for them, to see that such an unusual culture could exist."
Ayaan continues, "I cycled home thinking, "This is why Somalia is having a civil war and Holland isn't." It was all there. People in Holland agree that violence is bad. They make a huge effort to teach their children to channel aggression and resolve their disputes verbally. They had analyzed conflict and set up regulations to regulate it. This was what it meant to be citizens."
I am reminded of how the Swedish give their juveniles who misbehave massage training, knowing what touch does to the nervous system and soul.
I also was struck by this comment I read this morning made by the mother of Tiger Woods.
Kultida Woods once said of her husband, "He cry. He forgive people. Not me. I don't forgive anybody."
Perhaps that helped her survival at one time, but I think most of us now agree that forgiveness is a way that allows more movement in the heart and makes more sense. We forgive for ourselves.
May today be one of reading, learning, knowing, and making room in the heart for ease, understanding, forgiving and ease.