A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

March 20, 2007

Humanity in the Balance?

As one reads the various blogs, as one watches the news from around the world has there ever been a time of such stark and shifting contrasts?  Imagine if you would, a room awash in gasoline, and there are matches spread about just waiting to be struck.  Will someone willingly strike the match?  Has the match already been struck and we are in this moment awaiting for the engulfment of flames?  Much has been written of course, from both sides concerning the role of fanatical Islam and the reactions that have been brought about.  In a post at Woman Honor Thyself, the author writes in striking terms about the fear that many in the Free Democracies, mostly typified by the West have towards the possibility of offending the practitioners of Islam.  This fear is understandable, and should be based on the proper sense of “humanism” that the Western Democracies have developed over thousands of years, but I fear it is not.  Through the elevation of the human spirit, and a guiding principal, typically shown, with some horrific detours thankfully the exception and not the rule, the estate of man has risen, dramatically.

The  point raised, that we – of Western culture –  are scared of them – Islamic culture – is so true.  I wonder if it is that we are scared of them, or scared of what many of us, and even myself at times wish to do with those people.  While I do not blame all Muslims for the acts of 9/11, for the car bombs that blow up all over in their region, so typically directed against the practitioners of democratic governments, At times the virulent anger that I feel towards the movement of Islam is palapable, and while one can never excuse excesses, and remain civilized, it brings understanding of how such horrific atrocities can occur.

Sadly, those people, have little remorse, and seem to glory in such acts of barbarism. We see this every day a bomb goes off, we see this in the training of children to carry on the will of their God, which is to actively promote wanton destruction.  I would postulate that this is a very different God from the other branches in the tree of monotheism.  What I fear is in fact the reality.

What is that reality?  A great many of those people wish nothing but to wipe their feet upon the ashes of our humanity and our culture. While I don’t know an exact percentage, and probably no one does know, the number is certainly sizeable.  In a very real way they pose a clear danger to not only the security of the United States and other liberal democracies, but to the ethos of Western Civilization itself.

The questions which must be asked by every member of democracies which place a proper “humanistic” value on the right to life, the right to participate in self-government, the right to worship God as one pleases, even to ignore or discount, the right to live without fear, is what are we as individuals, as member of societies where government is placed squarely on the hands of the people prepared to do if this view is commonplace among those people. Do we dare risk our correct liberalism with views of tolerance and respecting differences by taking on the face of distrust and of not believing that inside every human being is a spark that wishes to burn not in hateful flames, but in the warmth of reason and moderation? 

In a Free Society, there is a tacit understanding that our differences – if we share the common ground of loving the concept of liberty – as a part of our citizenship more than the concept of devotion to the an individual cause which is allowed only because of that free society.  Yet this other society demands conformity and the bended knee to their view of God.  While in the West, even amidst the rhetoric of religious and non religious, people who are of faith are not threatened by those who do not share that faith.  Indeed, a civil discourse, filled oftentimes with good humor and concern from the common strands of humanity we share, however they got there, are a part of the compact we make with society.  I accept you, even if I don’t agree with you, and I value your right to be what I am opposed to, because in that I protect not only you, but eventually myself.    This concept of community, is sorely lacking in those people.

Perhaps the lines are being drawn. Perhaps they have been drawn for longer than many of us would like to admit.  Perhaps this is the climactic struggle of the ages, where history lies balanced on a thread, freedom and light contrasted by domination to a code enforced by the tyranny of evil men. All of our fathers and mothers of history look to us from wherever they lie. Never in the mind of mankind has an age of prosperity and the candle of liberty burned so brightly within our species. Yet, perhaps never are the consequences to guard that light so important.

Sadly ironic that so much of this struggle in concerned over oil.  Oil, which in the literature of both cultures plays a soothing role, a role that is shown to be linked to thoughts of light, and peace, reflection upon God.  The miracle of the Macabees for the Jews, the indwelling of God, the Holy Spirit for the Christian.  And yes, in Islam oil is seen as being the cures for many ills, and is given in tradition in preparation for pilgrimages.  Yet, oil, may be the crux or the agent which fills the room, ready for the match to strike. 

We must all ask ourselves, what am I prepared to do.  It would seem that a dark chasm fills the days ahead.  Ask yourself, do you see things getting better or worse in the next thirty years.  Consider the rapidity of the rise of this conflaguration.  Recall the happiness that the vast majority felt when two leaders worked together and seemingly the nuclear nightmare that had blanketed this planet for a generation was lifted.  How lifelong enemies became concilatory, cooperative and working towards friendship.  And yet, in the midst of that time perhaps an even greater danger to the world was arising.  What is life like today, compared to that time?  What do you feel life will be like for your children and by mercy, your grandchildren.  What type of world will they awake into.

At times like these I can understand the cries from the Psalmist who envisioned a day that enemies by nature would lie together.  I can understand the cry from the  heart of mankind to have a time when justice and peace shall reign, and the worlds swords will be changed to bring tools of harvest.  And yet, that moment, at this particular time seems more illusory to my own eyes than it has ever in the short time that I have lived on this planet.  At times I see hope, and then I see the gathering of clouds. 

It may well be that humanity is in the balance.  Is there light?  Does anyone see it? 

“For sleep one needs endless depths of blackness to sink into; daylight is too shallow, it will not cover one”.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Oh how I yearn to be awake in the sun.

22 Comments »

  1. “While I do not blame all Muslims for the acts of 9/11, for the car bombs that blow up all over in their region, so typically directed against the practitioners of democratic governments, At times the virulent anger that I feel towards the movement of Islam…”

    While I do not condone the actions of many Muslims, I would be careful to say such things out of the inconvenient historical context. Muslims are not sociopaths – not even the extremists. They are not a gathering of a million like-minded Charles Mansons bent on destroying western civilization simply because they don’t like us.

    Throughout the thousands upon thousands of hours of coverage on the Iraq war, whether on the right-wing Fox or the “liberal news outlets” of MSNBC, ABC, and NBC, I have yet to hear of any real historical investigation. We hear the leaders of Iran (and Venezuela) ranting about some imperialist agenda, yet we dismiss it quickly – what imperialism? Didn’t imperialism die with the rise of western democracy? The problem is that although our terms changed, our actions didn’t. Places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran (and the entire African continent) had been controlled by western forces for some what was several centuries.

    I just think that we need to be careful not to so quickly disregard a people group as the “other”, attributing to them aspects that we do not want to recognize as our own.

    Comment by Thinking Ape — March 20, 2007 @ 7:16 am | Reply

  2. Our fear is rather odd. After all Arabs (at this juncture) only seem to have any power and recognition in this world since they happen to sit on several rather huge oil deposits. When the oil runs out or we finally invent a viable alternative fuel, what will be left?

    Arab culture isn’t what it was several centuries ago- and shows little signs of advancing at this point.

    This to me is the biggest reason we have to invest HEAVILY in alternative fuels. When such is accomplished then Saudi Arabia and Iran will be about as important as Chad and Ethiopia on the world stage.

    I do my part by trying to live in an energy efficient manner. My wife and I are even looking to build one of these homes:

    http://formworksbuilding.com/

    The next step is relocating our jobs closer to home so that we can cut down on our driving. [We are waiting to buy a hybrid car until they work the bugs out.]

    “Places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran (and the entire African continent) had been controlled by western forces for some what was several centuries.”

    We shouldn’t make excuses for these nations based on colonization. Colonization seems to have worked numerous positive good in India and other eastern nations (despite its numerous flaws). Besides, problems in the Middle East predate colonization by more than a thousand years. After all, the split between Shia and Sunni wasn’t created by westerners- and has been the cause of great violence for over a thousand years.

    Comment by totaltransformation — March 20, 2007 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

  3. “We shouldn’t make excuses for these nations based on colonization”

    Should we be basing the problems in the middle east to a completely incomparable situation? Yes, colonization did happen, but if we want to compare, lets compare to what WE would do in their situation. When the British pulled out of India and Europe pulled out of Africa, the Americans did not simply invade several years later – since, of course, there would be nothing to gain from taking over such places.
    Middle East problems definitely predate colonization, yet this is again not something that is regularly recognized. Our western democracies were not forced on us by some “enlightened peoples”, they were fought by the people who were to benefit from such political ideals.
    There is little difference of Christianity and Islam in regards to internal violence. Christians were starting wars against each other even before Islam was founded. Even up until the 1600s, my people (Anabaptists) were tortured and burned by both Catholics and Protestants.
    To say that Arabs “show little signs of advancing at this point” is deeply flawed, for we are the ones with a self-proclaimed so-called evangelical Christian leader who brings unjustified, preemptive war for the sake of oil.

    Comment by Thinking Ape — March 20, 2007 @ 3:52 pm | Reply

  4. “To say that Arabs “show little signs of advancing at this point” is deeply flawed, for we are the ones with a self-proclaimed so-called evangelical Christian leader who brings unjustified, preemptive war for the sake of oil.”

    I would gladly recognize any progress in Arab culture over the last century if you would kindly reference such. Whatever Bush’s actions might represent to you, there is little doubt that it is western (and to some extent Asian) culture that are expanding- while Arab culture remains largely stagnant or shrinking.

    Comment by totaltransformation — March 20, 2007 @ 4:10 pm | Reply

  5. “To say that Arabs “show little signs of advancing at this point” is deeply flawed, for we are the ones with a self-proclaimed so-called evangelical Christian leader who brings unjustified, preemptive war for the sake of oil.”

    I didn’t know Osama bin Laden had registered an account on WordPress. Maybe the Arabs ARE advancing after all.

    Comment by hydralisk — March 20, 2007 @ 6:29 pm | Reply

  6. Totaltransformaion, Please define “progress.”

    Hydralisk, I am sure that if you studied history, politics, and/or contemporary religion more than you play video games, you will realize how ignorant that comment was.

    Comment by Thinking Ape — March 20, 2007 @ 6:40 pm | Reply

  7. You know, debates with strange people are interesting until they start pulling out on of these cards: war for oil, 9/11 conspiracy, Bush stole his first election, Bush stole his second election, and so on and so forth. Then you know they are simply one of the thousands of people who regurgitate talking points.

    In other news, to deny the existence of radical Islam bent upon destroying you and your way of life, thinkingape, and to say that we just need to talk to them, is to be blind to every other instance in the past decades where Islam has killed those who try to talk. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if radical Islam comes to America, they will not care what philosophy you’ve followed, and they will not talk. They will kill you unless you convert. Period. End of story.

    How do I know this? Because that’s what they’ve always done.

    Comment by thelonedrifter — March 20, 2007 @ 6:58 pm | Reply

  8. Progress is the growth toward further developments in science, technology, culture, etc.

    Aside from the Iranian dictator’s recent announcement of finding a cure for AIDs and his support for a rather backward (and very dated) nuclear program I see little with regards to developments relating to culture, science, and technology in the Middle East. Once again, I would gladly review any references you might supply.

    “you will realize how ignorant that comment was”

    Well since you would rather call my position ignorant than cite any sustained and widespread progressive developments in Middle Eastern culture in the last century I guess I must bow to your assessment.

    Upon review of Middle Eastern history over the last millennium it appears obvious that Islamic society bloomed about seven to eight centuries ago- and has been regressing since about two centuries ago. Turkey stands out as the one example of a “moderate” Arab state- and even it is deeply flawed and repressive and makes a mockery of the term “moderate.”

    As it stands Middle Eastern culture is stagnant (and possibly shrinking) as a result of their reliance on Oil revenues that go into the pockets of corrupted theocrats and tyrants. The oil revenues don’t go toward development of a rebirth classic Arab culture- but instead buy yachts, palaces, and slaves for a very select few. In addition, Islamic states are moving backwards toward greater enforcement of Sharia law (even compared to the powerful caliphates).

    Of course I am a historian of early America- and Middle Eastern history is only a hobby of mine. So I maintain an open mind and a willingness to consider an opposing view if presented. 🙂

    Comment by totaltransformation — March 20, 2007 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

  9. hi there..thanks so much for the link…….and this is spot on: A great many of those people wish nothing but to wipe their feet upon the ashes of our humanity and our culture…..thats why we must speak out often and loud my friend!🙂

    Comment by Angel — March 20, 2007 @ 7:30 pm | Reply

  10. “We must all ask ourselves, what am I prepared to do.”

    Live the most efficient lifestyle possible when it comes to energy. Turn down the thermostat a bit at night (if you don’t have young kids in the house) and wear warmer clothes. Buy the energy efficient light bulbs. Either plant a yard that will make your present house energy efficient or keep energy efficiency in mind when you build your new home. work as close to home as possible. Buy energy efficient appliances.

    If those who were able did these things we would cut down our need for oil (foreign and domestic) significantly. Some think the issue is so important that they are willing to exaggerate the threats of climate change to create incentives for change. However, I think people are reasonable, and if presented the benefits of such changes, would be willing to do so.

    Comment by totaltransformation — March 20, 2007 @ 7:39 pm | Reply

  11. BTW I want to emphasize that I am not condemning the hoi polloi of the Middle Eastern nations. I more than sympathize with their plight as members of a culture that represses the freedoms that are fundamental to a well-educated mind and a truth seeking method of inquiry. What could change if the dictatorships of the Muslim world all fell tomorrow (without the use of any American power- but by Arab hands)? I maintain a hope that the world would be a safe place and the average citizen of these nations would be liberated in mind and spirit.

    Comment by totaltransformation — March 20, 2007 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  12. I read your comment over at Angel’s place, and you make some good points. I do believe we are at a kind of cross roads. As you point out, I don’t see any ability or willingness on Islam’s side for humor, for true negotiation or compromise. It’s like an old horse with blinders on, he keeps on going straight ahead, blind to everything around him that could possibly change his course.

    Comment by Debbie — March 20, 2007 @ 8:13 pm | Reply

  13. Turkey’s annual deployment to the Iraq border and two more Iranians missing

    Just a routine annual deployment of the Turkish army preparing for operations against Kurdish camps in northern Iraq? The Media Line has the story. Don’t forget that Turkey is hosting ‘a one-day international conference to discuss the donor countries…

    Trackback by Right Truth — March 20, 2007 @ 9:14 pm | Reply

  14. “Hydralisk, I am sure that if you studied history, politics, and/or contemporary religion more than you play video games, you will realize how ignorant that comment was.”

    Hey, leave video games out of this 🙂
    Whatever else you can say about them, playing video games doesn’t render one compulsively spouting Code Pink chaff like this:

    “we are the ones with a self-proclaimed so-called evangelical Christian leader who brings unjustified, preemptive war for the sake of oil.”

    :shudder: I hope somebody shoots me before I ever turn into that.

    Comment by hydralisk — March 20, 2007 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

  15. We are at a crossroads and America needs to stand tall and vigilant. These people do not value the humanistic side of life, if they did they wouldn’t throw it away so easily. I just wish more of them would stand up and condemn the actions of the extremists, perhaps they are afraid also.

    Comment by mpinkeyes — March 21, 2007 @ 12:36 am | Reply

  16. #1 sorry about the delay…a long day.

    I am trying not to paint all Muslims with the same brush,and implying all are terrorist. I don’t think I did that. Nor, do I think that they are “sociopaths” who want to just destroy because they dislike us. Those who oppose have probably as many reason as there are opponenets, however, I would wager that a hatred of the values placed upon freedom of thought and a hatred of the relationship of the US towards Israel are prime factors. It goes deeper, and while I don’t have an inner view of the mind of the leadership of these groups, and there are significant numbers of them, the sorry history of actions of these people make them a viable threat to our culture, and to say that there is not a cultural aspect is to willingly be blind.

    With regard to the actions of Western cultures, certainly there were excesses, but this hardly explains the actions that take place a long while after these regions have gained autonomy. This becomes an exercise of who did what, and you can go to before the Crusades to lay blame at either side.

    Comment by avoiceofreason — March 21, 2007 @ 1:40 am | Reply

  17. #2
    While your actions are commendable and should be practiced by all, as it would have a real impact on our energy needs, don’t hold your breath. Sadly, the government may have to become involved either via incentive or mandate. Energy independence is a national security issue.

    Comment by avoiceofreason — March 21, 2007 @ 1:43 am | Reply

  18. 3 You said: To say that Arabs “show little signs of advancing at this point” is deeply flawed, for we are the ones with a self-proclaimed so-called evangelical Christian leader who brings unjustified, preemptive war for the sake of oil.

    This is hyperbole and can’t be verified. While this may be blasted if it were true, this was also the standing national security policy of six administrations prior to the current Administration. While there is a debate about the need to go to war, to imply it was for oil is conjecture.

    Comment by avoiceofreason — March 21, 2007 @ 1:45 am | Reply

  19. #7 I have to say I agree with your perspective. I tried to be careful not to paint all Muslims with the same brush. However, there is an element that does not wish free people well, but want them to submit and bend the knee to their beliefs.

    To say different is to deny reality. Have Christian groups done so at times, yes they have, to their shame, but this practice has changed greatly over the centuries and gunpoint evangelism has not been practiced in many years. Islam – or large segments of it – have only radicalized.

    Comment by avoiceofreason — March 21, 2007 @ 1:58 am | Reply

  20. It seems to me that reducing our (American) reliance on foreign oil is not the answer. There are plenty of other poeple who will need the oil (China and Mexico just to name two). The Arab states will be able to sell oil and will have considerably funds.

    If Americans continue to have wealth, there will continue to be ill-will against them. Since the Arab states will have funds, they will continue to wage war.

    To make matters worse, America is losing ground in a lot of areas. At the end of WWII, America was about the only country in the world with manufacturing capability intact. Now, other countries have the capability to surpass America. They will begin to share in the wealth. America will not have to funds to fight the coming battle.

    America is hated by several Arab countries. The ones that don’t, spare that hatred because of our oil purchases. When those stop, their hatred for us will increase (or at least their love will decrease).

    I realize I speak in generalities and not all of this applies to all Muslims. I personally know some Muslims who do not feel this way.

    The real question is, where do we go from here? Oil independence is not the only answer.

    Comment by Randy — March 21, 2007 @ 2:25 am | Reply

  21. If clear paths could be linked to these governments and their open support of terrorist activities, why aren’t they published?

    Heh, now isn’t that a “dumb” question!

    Comment by avoiceofreason — March 21, 2007 @ 2:49 am | Reply

  22. Randy brings up some good points, and energy independence although a part of the equation is not the full answer.
    We also have to face a reality that there are going to be two real superpowers, China and India, who are growing in industrial capability at a staggering rate. This puts an already muddled policy towards China in a further state of disarry, and makes India more of a true partner in diplomatic functions.

    Although we have all the enemies of a superpower due to our wealth and role in the world, along with our ideology of freedom, and our support of Israel, we have the other situation of the rise of these nations to deal with.

    Comment by avoiceofreason — March 21, 2007 @ 5:25 am | Reply


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