I checked in on the ol’ Internet tonight and saw that it was abuzz with the recent beheadings. I followed a thread to comment when it was at 3 pages, when I had finished composing it had grown to 11. I love how the Internet localizes the attention of the wired world at certain points when particularily shocking events occur. The forum I linked to seemed awash with condemnation of Islam and the Eastern philosophy in general. I felt compelled to post a comment about tolerance and messages of peace and love because gosh darn it, I’m a fricking hippy.

These images are disturbing, no doubt. If anything, though, I wish that more people in our world would see the violence that results from infliciting our lifestyle on the rest of the world. Why did this man’s life have to end? Why has it come to this, a most brutal act that shows just what we’re capable of inflicting on each other because of a culture clash of civilizations?
There has been a lot of spoken grief towards the family of this victim. I appreciate the sentiment that our culture can produce, because we’ve had this opportunity to really try and value each others lives. That’s something that the West has I believe really taken a hold of – we don’t really want to have anything to do with violence. Look at that! A culture that tries to appreciate the sanctity of life. For us, the images that we see before us are horrific. Is it only because we don’t ever see violent death, or is it because we’ve really come to appreciate the fact of life?
What kind of forces would drive a person to brutally kill someone in this way? What is the root of this war between the east and west? Religion, pure and simple. They perceive us to have this fundamentalist Christian heritage because it is the only religion being portrayed in the Media. We perceive them to have this fundamentalist Islamic heritiage because it is the only religiion being portrayed in the Media. This works well if you’re a fundamentalist, because you have something to hate and therefore something to hold on to. The problem comes with the moderates, who aren’t really sure what to think about religion anymore. I’m one of the latter, one who has grown up with computers and then the Internet and seen all the potential that this vastly more complex, interconnected network can provide humankind. If only there was some way that we could talk to our enemy, maybe some really tight translation software and, of course, an equal number of ‘opponents’ in which to partake in discussion.
I see a lot of angry comments towards Islam. I’m not Islamic, but then neither am I a Christian. I just don’t think that we can judge a relgion by the actions of it’s radicals. Every culture does produces radicals – it’s a part of a changing society because it’s mainly the outliers that bring in new memes for everyone else to digest. If that meme resonates with enough people then it produces an overall change in the pattern of people. What we’re doing here though is rejecting a very influential meme before we even get a chance to process it. It’s a defense mechanism – you build static structures because there’s a chance that a new idea will destroy your world as opposed to saving it. The thing is, if you want to improve your life then you have to process as many memes as possible. It adds to your individual complexity. It gives you faith in yourself.
I’ve always believed that understanding as many people as I can will make me a better person. What worries me is that unless we can somehow communicate our beliefs to a higher degree of quality then we’ll all just end up killing each other. It seems so tragic for a species with such potential.
I see the way this world is going. We’re polarizing ourselves in order to make our individual world understandable. Why else would we kill other people? Are we as innocent as we would like to think? Have we not spilled blood in a horrffic fashion to the people of the east? Did every smart bomb reach it’s target, or were innocent people who had their own lives like this helicopter repairman brutally murdered in the name of War?
Before we condemn our enemies, perhaps we should condemn ourselves. We have approached a foreign culture with a cluster bomb in one hand and a can of coke in the other. Surely there are more positive aspects of our culture that we can approach foreign people with? What about tolerance, equality and fair justice? What about the idea of representational rule? Surely this idea which has so greatly benefitied our lives could be instrumental in benefiting other lives as well? We don’t seem to be going about it the right way, and all of our best efforts seem to be exploding in our face.
Unless, of course, you’re happy hating people for the sake of hating someone. It seems to me that this class of people is something that we as a surviving species can do without. What did Kennedy say? “We live in one world, we gotta breath in the same air, we gotta live together, we’re gonna die together.”* Just because a culture or a person is foreign and strange to your perception doesn’t mean that their right to life is any weaker than your right to life. We’re all human beings, and we’re just trying to figure out a way to live together on this fragile blue planet.
*Taken from the following video, compiled in February / 2002. S-11 Redux is a sound-bite blitzkrieg that challenges the messages we have been fed from our mainstream media and the government it serves. Be warned – this video moves quickly and will require at least two viewings to digest its full impact. I wholeheartedly recommend viewing the messages from the last third again. (via The Guirella News Network – top right corner to download):

6 thoughts on “Beheadings”

  1. Tell me about it.. and I’ve gotten tons of traffic from google / yahoo / msn with the search terms ‘recent beheadings’… And yet no comments! I thought this would be pretty inflammatory. 😉

  2. Let me take a stab at this. It’s hard to comment on something so complex without sounding like a fundamentalist or a bleeding heart. If it were as easy as either side makes it out to be there would be no war or social ills in the world. For instance, I decry the nasty side of globalization, but my own efforts to change my consumer behavior fall so short that they become mere self-righteous tokenism.
    I have trouble believing the the US is the one who disenfranchised the people of the Islamic world. Their own leaders did that. We’re oil whores perhaps, and we need to get free of that pimp. But unless we ordinary people change our lifestyle en masse, we’re not going to influence politicians or impact the marketplace. I just hope it doesn’t take a catastrophic event beyond this war to bring us to that point.
    As an individual, I may not have much power to turn the tide either way, but I do have to answer for my behavior and attitudes. I live in a university town in Iowa, so I rub shoulders with lots of internationals: Korean, Chinese, Hindi, and Middle Eastern. I delight in knowing and loving them. It’s hard to hate an ethnic group if you know a few of their members personally. In fact, it’s hard not to absolutely love them. They’re amazing, dear people.
    And, we can’t confuse the true tenets of the Christian faith or the Muslim faith with the twisted delusions of people who weild their God like a weapon to oppress and intimidate.
    Personally, I’m happy to share the truth as I’ve come to know it. My Saviour wants to love and unite and heal.
    It’s just that people keep getting in the way.

  3. Here’s the the thing – as an individual consumer you have absolute power to affect the world. The choices you make in the way you go about leading your life may seem insignficant compared to the vast trends of the masses, yet people who change the way they live ultimately affect the people around them. If the people around them see this change as a positive one then they’ll adopt similar practices. The choices you make echo throughout the world. Ripples in a giant ocean of interconnected people.

  4. The “rambling” oratory is such basic nonsense, it barely calls for a reply at all.
    Inflicting our “lifestyle”??? i promised i wouldnt name call….yes, when i think of the old Iraq my mind wonders to a place where freedom reigns and promotion of ideas and progress run rampant.
    Wheres your moronic sympathy for the millions of slaughtered Iraqi’s at the hand of the great freedom promoter Saddam.
    Do yourself a favor and turn of CNNBC and CNN and possibly you’ll find out that there are millions of supportive Iraqi’s who dont necessarily want McDonalds and MTV…but do want self determination.

  5. They may want self determination but does it have any value when it’s given by the force of an outside nations’ gun? That’s not really self-determination is it. What about all the civilian casualties? Don’t they count, or is it just more collateral damage. Using fancy names doesn’t bring back all the people who wanted nothing to do with either side but have been killed in the process.

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