Image 1 of 1

08 Atmeh, Syria (January 14, 2013)

Add to Lightbox
This is Ragheb Ramadan, age 27 and from the Syrian town of Talhiyeh, standing with his three children in a camp for internally displaced persons. During our conversation about the situation in Syria, Ragheb told me that he fights for Jabhat al Nusra and comes to the camp only occasionally to see his family.

At the time, Jabhat al Nusra was an affiliate of al-Qaeda (it has since split), and so Ragheb was not the sort of person I normally had the opportunity to meet. Our 15 minutes together were cordial, even warm, but what if it hadn’t been? What if I knew he had taken part in one of the atrocities the group had committed, or what if he and I had met in different circumstances and he chose to do something bad to me? How does one relate to such a neighbor?

In thinking about this question, the 1950s and 60s black civil rights movement in my own country offers food for thought. One of the songs that demonstrators sometimes sang before going out, or in the thick of being abused, included the refrain “I love everybody, I love everybody, I love everybody in my heart.” Subsequent lines might replace “everybody” with the name of a specific person. Listen to the words of Dorothy Cotton, a leader in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference:

“Then somebody would always stop, because it was hard to sing ‘I love Hoss Manucy’ when he’d just beat us up, to say a little bit about what love really was. He’s still a person with some degree of dignity in the sight of God, and we don’t have to like him, but we have to love him. He’s been damaged too. So we sing it, and the more we sing it, the more we grow in ability to love people who mistreat us so bad.”
Copyright
Joel Carillet
Image Size
3334x5000 / 8.3MB
Contained in galleries
And Who Is My Neighbor?
This is Ragheb Ramadan, age 27 and from the Syrian town of Talhiyeh, standing with his three children in a camp for internally displaced persons. During our conversation about the situation in Syria, Ragheb told me that he fights for Jabhat al Nusra and comes to the camp only occasionally to see his family.<br />
<br />
At the time, Jabhat al Nusra was an affiliate of al-Qaeda (it has since split), and so Ragheb was not the sort of person I normally had the opportunity to meet. Our 15 minutes together were cordial, even warm, but what if it hadn’t been? What if I knew he had taken part in one of the atrocities the group had committed, or what if he and I had met in different circumstances and he chose to do something bad to me? How does one relate to such a neighbor?<br />
<br />
In thinking about this question, the 1950s and 60s black civil rights movement in my own country offers food for thought. One of the songs that demonstrators sometimes sang before going out, or in the thick of being abused, included the refrain “I love everybody, I love everybody, I love everybody in my heart.” Subsequent lines might replace “everybody” with the name of a specific person. Listen to the words of Dorothy Cotton, a leader in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference: <br />
<br />
“Then somebody would always stop, because it was hard to sing ‘I love Hoss Manucy’ when he’d just beat us up, to say a little bit about what love really was. He’s still a person with some degree of dignity in the sight of God, and we don’t have to like him, but we have to love him. He’s been damaged too. So we sing it, and the more we sing it, the more we grow in ability to love people who mistreat us so bad.”