There have been a lot of posts on Facebook recently about the goings-on in the Middle East. A tiny Muslim sect (Ahmadi) made the spotlight recently when the homes of its believers were attacked and some of the adherents killed. Then there’s the whole Israel / Gaza business. It’s really enough to make one sick to his stomach. Something else that could definitely induce vomiting would be antics of some Christians who are not only faux-fasting to get the Lord’s attention regarding marriage equality, but also are terribly convinced that homosexuals are literally about to round up the Body of Christ and begin a concentration camp-style extermination of said believers.
Naturally, when events like this are brought to light (For the Middle East these violent days seem unending, and for Christians these idiocies seem similarly perpetual.) it can be very challenging not to lump the few and the many together in one ridiculous, ignorant, hateful pile.
Certainly, in everything – and I do mean EVERYTHING – there are exceptions. Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews, chefs, politicians, police, and newspaper delivery folk all are groups, like any other, that contain an assortment of individuals both saints and sinners. And it should go without saying (although I’m saying it now) that generalizing and judging according to stereotypes is also an act of immense ignorance which leads to prejudice and all manner of human ugliness.
All of this is fine. Dandy, even. But in my mind, a question begs to be answered: Where are all the good ___________ ? (pick the name of any human group you’d like, and insert) I do believe that the nasties of any group are usually a very small percentage of its population. And I believe said nasties typically seem to have the loudest voice. But that’s not really any kind of excuse or accounting for why the good’uns don’t stand up to be counted. If I were a Christian (and I once was) and it became apparent to me that a segment of Christianity was ruining our “reputation” (for lack of a better word), you bet your butt I’d be speaking up. And I’d like to think that if I were in an Islamic country being tormented by a relatively small group of extremists, that myself and my brothers would stand up together and stomp them into the ground. But I don’t see those things happening as one would expect, or at least hope.
When a section of Christianity shows its ass, you might see a tiny group stand up and say something to refute the ass-showers, but even then it’s almost invariably done in a way that itself is more accusatory toward the ass-showers than it is redeeming for Christianity as a whole – which, to me, comes off more as a type of irresponsible avoidance than a valid and redemptive counter argument. Never mind the unfortunate fact that those who do speak against the ass-showers are themselves invariably a very tiny percentage of the overall group – so even if one can come to the conclusion that most Christians aren’t ass-showers, the conclusion that most Christians are of the “good” kind feels still out of reach. And what about our Muslim brethren? There’s no way in the world I believe that most Muslims are hijack-prone bomb fanatics. I studied Islam intensely for over a year and I know for a fact the path contains Truth. But where are all the “good” Muslims when some of these atrocities are happening? Why don’t Islamic attempts to stop suicide bombers ever succeed or even make the news?
I’ll never purposely make a case for someone to maintain discrimination against another group, but I sometimes feel like all I can do is passively shrug my shoulders when I hear some buffoon ignorantly spout off a host of stereotypical things. I could easily speak up (anyone who knows me, knows this is way true) and have spoken up in the past, but I never seem to have much ground to stand on. Where’s the proof that “most” active Christians aren’t ridiculous and hateful? There’s definitely abundant proof of the contrary. And what should I cite when speaking up for seekers within the religion of Islam? Tens of thousands of Muslims will take to the streets and practically riot when a mere picture of Mohammad is drawn and published (and not even one meant to be taken too seriously), but the masses are silent when Muslim extremists hunt down Hindus and slaughter them after destroying their houses of worship. (Before anyone skewers me too badly here, I do recognize what a nightmare it must be to live in such areas and I know that when someone arrives at your door and puts a gun to your face, you don’t argue, you submit. But the bulk of the world’s Muslim population are 1) not Arab and 2) do not reside in these harsh areas. These non-Arab Muslims make up the Islamic majority, not the civilians of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, and these Muslims could speak up quiet easily and quite comfortably AND with the added boon of the money of their western lifestyles to back them up.)
Please believe me, keeping your mouth shut when you need to open it the widest is not just cowardly, but it’s also gross. If what’s in your heart and mind don’t manifest in your words and actions, especially when it counts, then you might as well call yourself indifferent to the misery and sorrow of other beings because you’re being about as helpful. Naturally, there’s a time and place for everything and no one should abandon common sense or safety when taking a stance, but for most of my readers there has never been a time when you should keep silent and not stand for those who are weaker. Avoiding this kind of selfless duty because of timidity or a lack of confidence has got to be one of the most offensive forms of adharma I can bring to mind.
It’s all a huge tragic (and unnecessary) mess, obviously. The optimist in me brings new hope to the table each day. The realist in me, though, calls a spade a spade and continues to wait for the actualization of the optimist’s hope. I mostly tell the pessimist in me to shut its pie hole. It mostly listens.
At the end of the day, I don’t really care if all Christians are bigots or just a few. It doesn’t matter to me if all Muslims are terrorists or just a few. What matters to me is how I use my own voice and that I resist being too passive or indifferent when I see bullshit. In this spirit, I’ll close with my current guru’s words which, in this context, will be my governance, and I’ll point out that love is not passive. Ever.
“In life it is always possible that the people whom we consider as friends turn against us and similarly those whom we treat as enemies help us. So do not worry about others’ activities. Continue to show your love to all irrespective of whether they are friendly or inimical. You should understand that love begets love.” – Chariji, from Spiders Web Volume 2
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha