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.