Thoughts on Recent Events
I wish I knew what to say to everything that is going on in the world. We’ve seen the ugliness and hate that a twisted variety of Islam can breed. We’ve looked at each other and seen the same hate in our own eyes, but fail to recognize it for what it is. Those who’ve read the Koran can see that there are parts of it that can be used to legitimize atrocity, subversion, infiltration, murder… Certainly they are there. I have read many of them myself. Similar passages exist within the Christian bible that people thump and swear upon. “Our” own pre-christian, Hebrew god gave license to his people to kill, rape, and plunder in order to expand their holdings and increase his glory. Christians, taking up the mantle of “God’s Chosen” used the same passages to legitimize the Crusades as well as our own expansion across this very nation with similar brutality. Is Christianity then considered a violent religion? No, because we cannot think of ourselves in those terms. We’re the good guys, right? We also have (somewhat) embraced the New Testament which, in part, tempers the fire of the old Hebrew god. Islam has no such testament. Perhaps therein lies a difference, but the Koran also espouses peace. If we choose to embrace this New Testament we must also embrace its philosophy of love, empathy, and caring. The Bible is not a salad bar. We can’t just pick and choose and call ourselves Good.
In our “enlightened”, Christian imaginings we believe we are a loving a compassionate people, but to truly be so is difficult. To open ones arms in compassion is to also open yourself up to attack. Do we change who we are and turn away those who are suffering because of the fear of danger? I can’t answer that question. I can’t think that I would, as a person, be able to turn away… but the danger of those who would masquerade as refugees to gain access to our softest points is truly there. There is no doubt in my mind about that.
We have a fight ahead. A terrible, awful, complex fight that will never end so long as people are divided by our religions, culture, politics. History has shown time and time again that those kinds of barriers are impossible to erase. There are people on both sides who believe the others must be wiped out AND (let us especially not forget) those that believe such people are a useful resource that can be employed to carry out far less religious agendas to sate their greed.
But then comes the question of peace. Peace cannot exist so long as people have differences that they believe are insurmountable. So long as they are afraid of not having enough. So long as they believe the “other” is different, dangerous, suspect. Maybe Heinlein had it right in the world he imagined during Starship Troopers: Militarily-enforced world peace. Soldier citizens. Total unity. Those who remember the Roman empire will remember they attempted to achieve that kind of peace. It involved slaughtering hundreds of thousands, absorbing cultures, wiping out civilizations in order to make the world Rome. The English tried it as well. “Make the world England” was their motto. In the end it was also brutal, corrupt, unsustainable. These stories go on and on throughout our world history. The dream of total peace is really just that. We will always have our differences. We will always tend to look across, fences, borders, and ideals with suspicion and trepidation.
I’m no expert in politics, international relations, terrorism, warfare, etc, etc, etc. I’m just a nobody. I never went to war. I never had to suffer through what so many of my friends did. I never volunteered to be sent to a part of the world I’d never seen to fight people I did not know for reasons that were not mine. I cannot understand the fight the way they see it. I never studied politics. I never majored in sociology. I fix computers. I make Art. Because of these things I am labeled as ignorant (not untrue), childish (certainly to an extent), uninformed (probably). I just seems to me that our peace, the Pax Americana, has come to an end. Our way has been shown to be unsustainable. We meddle. We war. We send aid and weapons with equal frequency often to opposing groups. We try to convince ourselves that it’s all for the greater good. Just like the Romans. Just like the English. Just Like so many others. As a result many many innocent people have suffered. Ourselves as a people included.
Certainly there must be a better way. I wish I knew what it was, but alas I do not. Religion will not save us. Politicians neither. I wish I knew what to do. What to say to my kids. How can you grow up in this world and not hate? How can you grow up and know who your enemies are? Who are your allies? Can you sort the seeds and throw away the chaff with any certainty? These things are too fluid. It seems like there is no front line. There is no “over there” anymore. There is xenophobia, paranoia, and extremism in spades.
Can you remain vigilant and be compassionate? I think maybe you can. Can you fight hate and not hate in return? I hope so. I have friends who have shown me that they have been able to make those leaps of logic and faith. I can only hope their philosophies become more widespread. Sadly I am not seeing much of that when I look at our world, but perhaps there is still time. Perhaps if we showed both atrocity and compassion with equal frequency… Perhaps the world news shows too much of one and not enough of the other. Perhaps our view is skewed. Perhaps our social media echo chambers are exacerbating the issue. I don’t know for sure. I’m certainly no social scientist.
I wish I knew. I’m sure there are many of you, my friends included who think you’ve got the answer (“Kill ’em all!” or “Save ’em all!”). You probably think I’m silly, naive, ignorant. Maybe I am. I certainly cannot solve the world’s problems. In that at least I acknowledge my ignorance. My inability. Perhaps more people should do the same before they speak out in anger.
My hope is that maybe just maybe there can be found some benefit to a perspective that still sees the world as a wonderful place with room for everyone. I place we can share and explore. Maybe there’s still room for that dream. Maybe that’s just naive, wishful thinking. I hope not.
But frankly anymore… I just don’t know.
Eat drink and be merry
You know the rest