From the Daily Office Lectionary (Yr 1), Saturday in the week of Proper 9B (Pentecost 6, 2015)
1 Samuel 17
43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.

Yesterday, I was listening to a news commentary on NPR while there was a discussion of the so-called “Islamic State” (“ISIS”) and whether it had any pretentions of attacking Israel. There have apparently been some arrests of Bedouins in the occupied West Bank and of Palestinians in East Jerusalem who are claimed to be ISIS confederates. An expert “talking head” was being interviewed and in the course of his comments said of Jews and Muslims, “They are natural enemies, of course.” ~ I frequently talk back to my radio . . . and talk back I did: “No!” I shouted. “They are not!” I’m willing to admit that in the animal kingdom there may be a few sorts “natural enemies;” the cobra and the mongoose, for example, seem always to be at odds, and there may be other pairs like them. Between differing species there may be natural enmity, but I am unwilling to say there is natural enmity between groups of the same species, especially between groups of human beings. There may be natural rivalry, but not natural enmity. ~ Enmity is not natural; it must be taught. Even the relationship of predator and prey, though it may be “natural,” is not necessarily one of enmity. The young of predator and prey species, raised together, coexist peacefully. The internet is filled with videos of cats and mice being chummy, of dogs and deer who are best buds, of cats and birds playing together. Unless a parent animal teaches her offspring to hunt and kill their “natural prey,” they will not do so. Unless a parent human teaches his or her offspring to fight and kill those of another group, they will not do so. David the Israelite and Goliath the Philistine need not have been enemies; contemporary Israelis and Palestinians need not be enemies. The former were and the latter are taught to hate, taught to fight, taught to kill. As Lieutenant Cable sings in Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific:

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

It’s teaching that makes enemies, not nature.