Wednesday, June 20, 2007
To see ourselves as others see us
Of course, you must have guessed my intent. I complain about American ignorance, conceit, and failure to see ourselves. We also have our religious fanatics. We have people called fundamentalist evangelical Christians who would impose rules of behavior and punishments described in a holy book written several centuries before the Muslim holy book. We disparage the "Islamic Republic" of Iran because we understand it to be not a republic but a theocracy, in which the will of God is interpreted by the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. We have our own ayatollahs who insist that the Christian holy book is the highest law of the land and all other laws, including the federal constitution, are derived from it. We have our own ayatollahs who tell us that wives should submit to their husbands, children should always obey and respect their fathers and mothers, individuals should not enjoy the ecstasies of sex before marriage, and individuals of the same sex should not be allowed to live together, and in fact should be punished according to rules laid down 2500 years ago in the Book of Leviticus.
Of course, you will argue that most Americans don't subscribe to such rules. Most Muslims don't either. A Muslim friend tells me that there are at least seventy different kinds of Muslim. There must be at least that many different kinds of Christian. Aside from certain dietary restrictions, there really isn't much difference between Christians and Muslims. Most of them are tolerant of other beliefs. Most of them don't subscribe to literal and severe interpretations of their holy books. Why do some pundits assure us that we in the Christian West are doomed to a horrific struggle with the Muslim East?
One answer is suggested by the title of this post.