Monday, September 11, 2006

What have we really learned?

As we all know, on this day in 2001, the United States suffered the worst attack on American soil in its history. Thousands were killed, even more injured, and countless lives were effected by this horrific act of violence. The question remains, what have we learned since then?

Since 2001, we as Americans don't trust anyone; thankfully this includes President Bush and his administration who have used 9/11 as a rallying cry to keep them in office. Republicans keep spouting off that they will make sure we are safe, and the Clinton administration failed in countless ways to prevent a tragedy such as this. But, that is not my point in all of this.

The main thing that we as Americans have learned is how to be even more ignorant towards others. Many see a Muslim walking down the street and assume they are a terrorist. Those from the Middle East are given extra pat downs at airport checkpoints because they of course could be carrying a bomb or other device. Mosques are vandalized, Arabs are discriminated against, and there is no understanding for them as individuals, nor do we even try to understand the Muslim religion, we just run away and taunt.

The reality of it is that Islam is a religion based on peace. Muslims are devout in their faith, and want peace in the world and not violence. Because of the actions of a few devout and fundamentalist believers in Islam. As is all religion, Islam is one that is subject to interpretation, and some will interpret the Koran in ways that suit their own personal agendas. This is no different from Catholocism, Judiasm, or for that matter any form of religion. I read things one way, you read them another. In the case of those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, they interpreted the Koran to preach violence and to eliminate those who do not believe the same as they do. What we have Americans have done is to condemn the religion because of the actions of a relative few and not the majority.

What can we do to heal? Learn, listen, and read. Read about the Koran and you will find verses saying Allah does not condone the senseless killing of others, he condones it. "Whosoever kills a human being without (any reason like) manslaughter, or corruption on earth, it is as though he had killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life it is as though he had saved the lives of all mankind." (The Holy Quran 5:32) " This is a message of peace and not one that said to kill over 3,000 innocent people.

We need to learn to learn, and to persue knowledge of what happened and why. Systematically discriminating against millions because of the actions of a few will not allow us to move on; we will simply keep living in the past.

1 comment:

tirade25 said...

Hey Fells,

This is a good post. I agree with you that bad people will use any faith to support barbarity. Unfortunately, I don't agree that Islam is completely "a religion based on peace." There are many passages in the Qu'ran which talk about the justified destruction of enemies of Islam as well as the importance of Jihad in the lives of any devout follower. (now, whether Jihad means a personal struggle against temptation and sin or the mission of individuals to redirect the nonbelievers, Muslims are not in agreement) but the teachings of Mohammed are not as peaceful as those of Bhudda or Jesus, for example. While these passages in the Qu'ran do not advocate violence against innocent people, they do differ fundamentally from many of the teachings in the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, Torah, and others.
The biggest problem that I see, however, is that a lot of Muslims do actually believe that the West is an enemy of Islam. I'm not basing my opinion on Republican jargon or crazed Bush-speak, here. I lived in the Middle East for a few years and found that while most individuals are good, friendly, peaceful, devout people; it is a pretty common belief (as they will tell you to your face) that the West represents all things that the teachings of Islam oppose (sex, consumption, drugs, alcohol, individualism, and TOTAL equality of the sexes).
Like you said, we need to learn and persue knowledge of what happened and why (regarding 9/11). Part of that knowledge is understanding that there is a rapidly growing population of followers who really do oppose the freedom we have here (and no, I don't mean this in the way that W. does when trying to justify the Iraq thing). What I mean is this: From a Muslim perspective, living in America affords me (a young woman) the freedom to leave the protection of my parent's home, the freedom to drink and take dangerous drugs, the freedom to have risky and emotionally damaging intimate encounters with people who I am not married to, the freedom to be victim to an act of violence, the freedom to dress in a way that is personally degrading, the freedom to work for a living instead of being taken care of (which is considered a luxury by Muslim women). But from an western perspective, one might look at my situation with the view that I am free to create my own life, make my own decisions, and take responsibility for my own actions. The truth is that living a devout Islamic lifestyle is fundamentally opposed to the freedom we have here in America. Does this make them wrong? No. Does it make us wrong? Certainly not. But there is a serious problem because no amount of bombing, fighting, or even discussion between the two groups will lead to common ground. This is why trying to make Iraq a democracy is insane. Democracy is based on western values (the opposite of Muslim values).
My point in writing all this is that people need to understand that it isn't as simple as "the majority of Muslims are peaceful people who want peace and don't support terrorists." This is true. But there's more to it. Islam is a faith which, at it's heart, discourages individuality and independence. While followers Islam want peace, many really do believe that we are the enemy. And to them, maybe we are. The only real solution is for us to leave them alone and for them to leave us alone. Completely.
That's my two cents.