Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I don't understand why things need to be "all or nothing" for so many people in the world. I mean, when you think about it, true "all or nothing" situations are extremely rare. Most of the time the world exists in shades of grey rather than black or white.

I started thinking about this today because of the church that is planning on burning a pile of Qurans later this week. They seem to firmly believe that all Muslims are evil terrorists bent on destroying or converting the entire world. The irony of this, of course, is that by maintaining that set of beliefs they are taking the same sort of stance that they claim to be against, and they are also providing ammunition for the few Muslims who ARE extremists.

A friend of mine posted on his Facebook that he feels that the burning of the Qurans is very un-Christian. This, of course, led to a discussion of the whole thing. Fortunately the discussion remained pretty civil and people were actually polite to one another rather than sniping or snarking. But there was one woman who posted a few times and was obviously one of the folks who either supports the burning or at least doesn't object to it. She said something that helped trigger the "all or nothing" question in my head. She said:

How come so much attention is being paid to the feelings of those from another country? More than is being paid to the feelings of Americans?

She said more than that, but this is the part that caught my eye. So I asked her a question (which she has not replied to as of this point in time). I said:

There are Americans who are Muslim too. How do you think they feel about seeing their holy book burned? Shouldn't that be kept in mind too?

With that question it all crystallized in my mind. Humanity has lost touch with our humanity. We don't care about others any more, we just care about being right. It doesn't matter if the target of the moment happens to be those from another religion, or another race, or even another subculture. All that we care about is that They don't do things the way that We do them. We are obviously right, and They are obviously wrong, so the important thing isn't to stop and think about what reasons They may have for being as they are, but rather to find ways to make Them admit that Our way is the Right Way.

I hope that humanity can find the way to put empathy back into our emotional arsenal rather than continuing to dull our empathetic and sympathetic abilities. I think that part of the problem is our loss of a sense of community. While communications technologies have made our world smaller in many ways, they have also served to widen the gulfs that divide us from ourselves. But I think that's the subject for another post.

For now, I hope that the few people who actually read this think about it and take it to heart, then start finding ways to empathize with all of those who share this world (humans and other creatures). I think that if we're going to save ourselves, we need to start there. And maybe lighten up on the "all or nothing" approach to viewing the world around us. Personally, grey is one of my favorite colours.

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