Sunday, August 23, 2015

Islam & the West – Contemplations on a way forward.


It is difficult to improve human action if you’re totally attached to a fixed set of beliefs. The migration of destructive human action to constructive human action requires the ability to manage innate human modality, it is innate in us to adhere to the “program set” we’ve been handed and to the people that share it.

One of the most constructive elements of a free market is the presence of “creative destruction” and the resulting “disruption” in the market place – it winnows out decadence, permits change and feeds dynamism. This phenomenon has advanced the material well-being of western society more than any other, its existence has been contingent on the acceptability to change course. The stasis that is effected by the dogmatic adherence to scriptures of any kind, precludes this important force to come to play in the advancement of human relations. This is in no way a call for a nihilistic bent in the approach to religions, but rather, a call to allow approach to modify in view of new knowledge while in pursuit of improved outcome.

Inherent in all advancement is heuristics, here again; the stasis that is effected by the dogmatic adherence to scriptures of any kind precludes this important force to come to play in the advancement of human relations. The rigidity placed on populations by religion tends to generate inertia, inertia of actions that are both good and bad. There has been inability on all our parts to break the cycles that are causing discord. 

Religion tends to want to “silo” human existence, in this way it fractures us and erects territorial boundaries, which become barriers to harmonious coexistence. Clearly defined and material territorial boundaries can normally be addressed with tit & tat, metaphysical territorial boundaries  bore of religion are ephemeral, ill-defined and come with a complex of beliefs and morays that reside nearly at a sub-conscious level – when these boundaries are breached, our identity and or state of being is challenged.

“Because religion seeks to give meaning to our lives, it’s bound up with all the components of our understanding of who we are; as individuals, as members of families, of communities, of nations, peoples; even as part of the whole cosmos. And when, in those contexts, we feel threatened or under siege, or lacking in respect or alone and humiliated, then we will utilize that which seeks to give meaning to defend ourselves.” Rabbi David Rosen

The challenge is to bring all parties to a place of commonality, to identify a common substrate on which human interface can take place, a means by which to leave erect the silos that religion has  built, but reach through their walls in a non-threatening way. There are many commonalities in the human condition, safety and security is one, the advancement of the one’s we love another. The one point of commonality that all are dependent on is the assembly and collection of material goods – this is the one point of commonality that religion strives to separate us from. Many in the peace movement see materialism as the enemy, the mere satiation of human desire, theirs’s is a pursuit to rise above the physicality of it all, to avoid being sullied by material want; there maybe or may not be merit in this as a personal pursuit, but it scales poorly and worse, it ignores the reality of the majority of earths inhabitants who scratch to subsist.

“Every day we are reminded of our differences and the reasons why there is confrontation and violence in the world. But what is truly needed is the opposite: to emphasise what unites us. Once we realise that every human being has the right to lead a dignified life our differences become less important. On this common ground we can work out how to live with our differences and take advantage of the positive opportunities that reside within them.”  HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway

Perhaps a commitment to a general state of dignity for humanity is the answer. Dignity is offered here in contrast to a largely a comparative assessment, but rather, as the human right to a “quality of being worthy of honour or respect”. It is certainly the case that in an intracultural circumstance a sense of dignity tends to be derived by a comparative assessment and absent a compelling rationale to see otherwise this is true of an intercultural assessment of dignity as well. So when addressing a negatively affected population, it is critical to provide a compelling rationale for a reduced state of being on their part; this is achieved by offering recognition for the sources of the negative outcome being endured.

Dignity is rarely present when material needs are unmet. We, in the west, live in a state of relative prosperity when contrasted to most of the world and certainly the majority of the Muslim World. This reality is a by-product of historical occurrences that brought European prominence to the world and much of the Muslim World. In many ways, the management of Europe’s withdrawal from the Muslim World at the fall of the Ottoman Empire left discord and marginalisation in the region and fear by the west of a resurgent Muslim World precluded the fair remuneration for resources extracted from Muslim territories. If a component of dignity is rooted in the material well-being, perhaps the provisioning the means to prosperity would focus human action on the acquisition of material well-being and away from violent action; thus harmonising the human enterprise and neutralising  theology a source of antagonism. 


Ottawa-shootings rational response please  
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