Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Seriously Stupid Rant

Did you hear the one about the nation that bombed the fuck out of a hospital full of innocent citizens and then turned around and started criticizing the slaughter of innocents in Paris last week? Seriously. It's no joke.

Thank God I'm an American. Seriously. I am grateful to live in a country where I can freely voice my opinion about how our government leaders are fucking things up, worry free.

Merry Christmas, Governor Brownback!!!
Posted by Becky Carleton on Monday, November 16, 2015

Sure, I'm not worried because it's my First Amendment right to speak freely, but also I'm not worried because I know most of my fellow Americans aren't paying attention.

Nobody gives a shit when we're bombing brown people half-way around the world when our boys in blue just won the "World" Series and brought our community together for a big rally. I was there. I'm not saying I have anything against 800,000 of my closest friends showing up to celebrate the Kansas City Royals' victory. I enjoyed the giant kumbaya, too. I just wish 800,000 of my closest friends would show up to rally for peace with me, too.

Instead, since the Paris attacks last week, I'm seeing so many battle cries on my Facebook feed, it makes me want to cry. It's a sad sick deja vu. Yes, it's awful what the terrorists did to the innocent people of Paris. Yes, we should find a way to end the seemingly endless terror inflicted upon innocent people all over our planet. But bombing more brown people half-way around the world is not going to solve our problems.

There was this guy named Einstein who once lived on this planet. He had some big ideas. His intelligence was so revered, to this day if we're around someone smart we call him or her an Einstein. I like what this guy Einstein had to say about the definition of insanity:

At least I think Einstein said that. I saw it on an internet meme, so it must be true.

Please, stop the insanity. Stop the bombings. End this endless war.

Here's another internet meme guy who speaks the truth:

I understand why most of my friends and family and neighbors pay more attention to sports scores and celebrity gossip--Did you see that Charlie Sheen's going to talk about his HIV status on the Today Show?--than they pay attention to our nation's foreign policy and world news. Sports and celebrity gossip are cut and dried. Nice and easy. Good and bad.

We lost! Oh, no!
We won! Hooray!
Charlie Sheen has AIDS? Well, that's what he gets...

The world wages more wars as I sit safe in my comfy chair in my living room far away from the battle zones and murder sites. From my safe distance, I try to figure it all out.

I like to search for meaning in many different ways. I am a Christian. I attend a Presbyterian church in the middle of this here God Blessed U - S - A, and yet it's not jingoist and Lee Greenwoody at all. My church is full of skeptics and intellectuals and moms and dads and seniors and teens and young people who like to ride on this journey along side others with an open mind.

But still. I call myself a Christian, and so I am a Christian. I'm not your "typical" Christian, but do you honestly know any "typical" Christians once you get to know them as people? Once you sit down at the table and talk and share a meal together? Human beings are far more complex than the labels we assign ourselves reveal. Sit down and have a conversation with someone before you think you know them.

I'd like to sit down and have a conversation with this Muslim writer, Professor Reza Aslan. I've seen him speak on various talk shows such as Real Time with Bill Maher over the years. I once put a hold on his book, Zealot, about the life of Jesus of Nazareth, but I never got around to reading it. After seeing this clip of him responding to the question of whether or not Islam promotes violence, I think I need to start paying more attention to him.

Of all the talking heads, Aslan makes the most sense. From the video clip above:
LEMON: "...There is nothing particular, there's no common thread in Muslim countries, you can't paint with a broad brush that somehow their justice system or Sharia law or what they're doing in terms of stoning and female mutilation is different than in other countries like Western countries?" 
ASLAN: "Stoning and mutilation and those barbaric practices should be condemned and criticized by everyone. The actions of individuals and societies and countries like Iran, like Pakistan, like Saudi Arabia must be condemned, because they don't belong in the 21st century. 
"But to say Muslim countries, as though Pakistan and Turkey are the same, as though Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are the same, as though somehow what is happening in the most extreme forms of these repressive countries, these autocratic countries, is representative of what's happening in every other Muslim country, is, frankly -- and I use this word seriously -- stupid. So let's stop doing that... 
"...Again, these kinds of oversimplifications I think only cause more danger. There is a very real problem. ISIS is a problem. Al Qaeda is a problem. These militant Islamic groups like Hamas, like Hezbollah, like the Taliban have to be dealt with. But it doesn't actually help us to deal with them when, instead of talking about rational conflicts, rational criticisms of a particular religion, we instead so easily slip into bigotry by simply painting everyone with a single brush, as we have been doing in this conversation, mind you."
I'd love to sit down and have a conversation with Professor Aslan and talk show host Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks. Aslan is a Muslim, and Uygur is Agnostic. I highly recommend everyone, including my Christian and Atheist friends, to watch this interview. If you want to see two intelligent, rational, thoughtful people debate in a meaningful way, here you go:

Here's my favorite part:
Reza Aslan: "This is the problem. The reason why Sam Harris is a fundamentalist, like any other fundamentalist, is because he reads the scripture the way a fundamentalist reads the scripture. He reads the scripture and believes that it is literal and inerrant and if anybody who disagrees with the literal inerrancy of it then they are not really a Muslim, they're not really a Christian. You know who else believes that? Fundamentalists believe that. That's who else. Scripture is just words on a page. It has everything that you need. If you're a feminist, you can look to the scripture and find plenty of things to justify your feminism. If you're a misogynist, you can look at that exact same scripture and find plenty of things to justify your misogyny. Only a fool or a bigot follows only half the verses of the scripture and ignores the other half. That's what Sam Harris does. It's what ISIS does. It's what all fundamentalists do." 
Cenk Uygur: "Why do you choose to believe Islam if you know that the text isn't really true?" 
Aslan: "First of all, I don't 'believe Islam'. Islam is a man-made institution. It's a set of symbols and metaphors that provides a language for which to express what is inexpressible, and that is faith. It's symbols and metaphors that I prefer. But it's not more right or more wrong than any other symbols and metaphors. It's a language. That's all it is."
What do you think? I'd like this seriously stupid rant to spark some conversation.