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):