Saturday, March 20, 2010

stumbling over exceptionalism

as i get older i realize that many of the long-enduring cliches remain in use for a good reason. mostly because they represent aspects of life that must be repeated over and over. they are items that seem to escape the grasp of common sense for most people. one such example is "never judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes".

people rarely stop to think about how they might feel or act if in a situation in which they see others. the phenomenon is magnified with distance or cultural boundaries. i often hear people call for action of this or that nature against iran. they're building nuclear weapons! they're a terrorist state! i'm no advocate of any state, of course, but think about it from iran's perspective.

they haven't aggressed against another country in over 200 years. the world's most aggressive government is breathing down their necks threatening bomb raids on their power facilities that both the IAEA and the u.s.' own intelligence reports deny are developing nuclear weapons. the countries on the east and west side have already been aggressively invaded and destroyed based on lies of the same nature.

now what if, here in the u.s., the same situation were happening? what if mexico and canada had both been invaded and destroyed by china under false pretense? what if china were threatening to invade and destroy the u.s.? what if they had already bullied the rest of the world into supporting economic sanctions? would these same people who support action against iran also support action against their own country? if not, why not?

i hear the same thing about a so-called muslim conspiracy. "they're trying to take over the world"! "islam is a violent religion - just read the qu'ran"! does anyone have any idea how hard it is to organize people? like everyone, muslims are a widespread, culturally diverse group. not only that, but like most other people, the first thing they are concerned with is surviving at the highest quality of life possible. do they procreate at a higher rate than many other cultural groups? maybe, but so do catholics. i don't hear any alarmism about them taking over.

i've seen the snippets of the qu'ran cited to support the claim that islam, by its nature, is violent. has anyone read the old testament recently? where's the outcry about that?

forget about racial, cultural and religious differences. people will, first and foremost, attempt to survive as best they can. they aren't, on any scale, worried in their day to day lives what the percentage of whom is in the world. they don't care about what your life is like, or about what your religion is. they do worry about themselves and rightly so. they don't want to be bombed by governments. they don't want to be starved by the "international community" (especially for the actions of a government they can't control - everyone should be able to identify with that) and they don't care about taking over the world.

try to think of others as people, just like you, because that's what they are. think about their situation before you call for their extermination. exceptionalism, or the idea that "we're better than everyone because we're us", is a stumbling block for everyone in their understanding of others. don't judge them before you've walked a mile in their shoes.

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