So, as I am perusing the news and the trending topics this morning, it is clear that only one thing is on America’s mind – Donald Trump’s proposal to block Muslims from entry into our country.
I have had such trouble in debates with others on topics surrounding Islam because I do, to a degree, understand the fears that some Americans have. This article (on thinkprogress.org) so eloquently states what I have been trying to explain to those who are fearful of Islam. There is something to be afraid of… but it’s not what they think.
“This is precisely what ISIS aiming for,” states Justin Salhani.
And he is right.
We are just pounding nails into the coffin of peace, people. When we scream about not letting refugees in, when we allow people like Donald Trump to become representatives of our nation and when we silently believe the rhetoric surrounding Muslims… we are saying to the world that we are not trustworthy, we are not kind and we are not people with whom others can feel safe.
ISIS can look around and say, “Didn’t we tell you that they hate Muslims? Let’s fight!” and when people are desperate and hungry and scared and we have turned them away out of our own fear, what happens? You can do the math.
My husband often tells me that I sound like I am full of shit and that most people probably don’t believe me when I argue for peace and for humanism so adamantly. Most people, he argues, just don’t think that way and they can’t wrap their minds around why I would.
I just know that I always have. I have always wanted to live in a certain kind of a world. The human experience, for me, has always been so fascinating. Our similarities so outweigh our differences, yet we spend our whole lives scared of one another. I have never been able to understand how such intelligent, critically thinking creatures as ourselves could allow ourselves to be affected so deeply by the color of a person’s skin or, for heaven’s sake, how they choose to pray.
I remember vividly when I told my kindergarten classmates and teacher all about my desire world peace. My teacher asked me to explain what I meant, and I said, “People can just get along. It shouldn’t be hard. You don’t have to like everybody, just be nice.” Of course, at the time, I had no idea how that would ever happen. It was an abstraction and, well… It still is.
What does something so abstract look like?
That was the first question that I had, so many years ago.
Well, over the years, I figured it out… (sort of)
It looks like love. This is yet another abstraction that can only be truly understood with the heart.
That’s why it seems so elusive to us. How can we impossibly achieve something that we can’t even define? Put simply: It’s easy to give up hope on something like global peace because no one really believes that it can happen. It’s easier to buy into the fear-mongering of presidential candidates that have more in common with Hitler than we want to acknowledge.
When you don’t believe that peace is possible, you live on the defense and you’re always looking around the corner. You keep yourself in sort of a fight or flight mode. And, unfortunately, that is where power-hungry politicians want to keep you.
You’re always running or ready to put up your dukes. When you go through life that way, you will always run up against problems. You will always end up fighting.
But, what happens if we drop the fight in our own personal lives? Does ISIS win? No. We have no control over ISIS, really. And, here’s where it gets really tricky, guys:
If we get rid of ISIS, there will always be an evil entity (person, organization, nation, etc.) waiting in the wings.
And, you think, “EXACTLY! That is exactly why we have to protect ourselves.”
But, you can’t. You just can’t. It is the human condition to want to control everything. But, we can control only a tiny part of what happens around us. We need the help of others. We just do. Whether we want it or not.
Humanity will succeed or fail based on our willingness to work together. We didn’t evolve into humans overnight and, with that evolution, we carried along some ideas. A lot of those ideas are outdated or just plain wrong. Others still have merit but must be examined critically. Some others still hold true.
One of my favorites:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
(Yep. The atheist is quoting the Bible!)
What we must understand is that we have not stopped evolving. Now, we have come to a crossroads in our growth as a species. Some of us have prospered and others of us have not. Some of us eat well but some eat just enough to survive. Children die of starvation on the sides of roads, miles from their mothers and fathers. My kids go to bed snugly in a warm house, with full bellies, each night.
Yet, when we get something, we hoard what we have and are reluctant to share. We have divided ourselves across many lines and created all sorts of superficial barriers.
We have convinced ourselves that loving others is hard… that it is a sacrifice… or “the right thing to do.”
But, it’s not the right thing to do. It is the only thing to do. If we choose fighting over peace and hatred over love, our species will not survive. It will not flourish.
This is not a religious versus atheist debate (I think we all know where I stand on that). It is not an America versus the Middle East issue. It is not an issue of Christians versus Muslims.
The problem is that we have evolved enough to be better than we are… and we are not getting better. We know more, but we are not doing more. We are developing better cars, computers and medicines every day but we can’t seem to develop a moral compass that can lead our species down a different path. I would argue that we are succeeding in the areas in which we are putting our energy.