When I visited the Normandy beaches with my family, we visited the American and German cemeteries. At the time, I didn't think anything of it, but when we visited the German cemetery, I was sobered, but not overwhelmed with sorrow. When we visited the American cemetery, I cried. (And I'm not afraid to admit it!) Now that I think back on this, I realize how inhumane this is. Indeed, the Germans fought for an evil ruler, but they were humans too. Maybe they aren't even from our country, but they are still humans. Many of the Wehrmarcht or the common soldiers were forced into service by the SS. The SS were the evil units who carried out Hitler's dirty work, but most of the normal soldiers, the Wehrmarcht, were simply fighting to survive. Why was I not equally sorrowful at the loss of any human lives?
I realize that it isn't just me who generalizes whole groups of people. I see how many people in America seem to generalize Arabs as fanatics who scream 'death to the infidels' whenever they can. However, I have had many experiences with Arabs, and only one time did I meet with a hostile action. Of course, I lived in Abu Dhabi, an American-friendly area of the Middle East, but there were still many Arabs from most of the Middle East living and working there. It troubles me that many Americans simply put off Arabs as ignorant fanatics. However, I believe although some may behave in heinous ways towards non-Muslims, we should return that anger with tolerance and understanding; turning the other cheek would be the first step among many other key actions. This first step will help our nation to once again reach a high moral ground if we attempt to understand a group of people better. There are many experts in the military, but those 'experts' sometimes overlook the fact that when one group of Muslims is threatened or invaded, many other Muslims distrust those who invade or threaten their fellows. The other Muslims may do nothing to help their brothers in religion, but they will hate anyone who attacks a nearby Muslim country. Now, many Muslims throughout Europe, Asia, America, and the Middle East dislike America, and this huge population of people influences the politics of their respective countries. As a result, America begins to loose her moral high ground when we forget not to generalize. If we loose this moral high ground, we could loose our influence in the world, and become another powerful but corrupt nation in the minds of all of those on Earth. Tolerance is key!
Here is a photo of my Dad and I at the American Cemetery in Normandy