After a hiatus of some months brought about by Middle East and Canadian travel, it is time to return to IN RI and offer a comment or two. There are myriad topics up for grab, but I have settled on two: religion and stupidity. [They are not necessarily connected, although some might argue that they are.]
The 'everyday news' that seems to bubble to the surface worldwide concerns Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Each confesses that its roots can be and are traced to Abraham. Sadly, from that point on, they go in different directions.
At this point, a confession - I am a Christian who follows the Anglican truism. I count among my acquaintances Muslims, Jews, other Christians and Hindus. My wife and I have attended Muslim weddings as well as other religions versions of wedding vows, chief among them Vedic, a version of Hinduism plus the various Protestant varieties as well as Roman Catholic. I imagine that many readers can say the same thing; however, my so saying is to set my place among the religions and how I see them - similar or different.
What concerns me most, especially after my two visits to the Middle East over the past couple of years, is how intransigent some of that area's citizens are - they are dead set in their religious views and nothing will budge them from their mindset. For an example, both visits to Bethlehem were coupled with an unease brought about by Palestinians who dislike any contact with a non-Muslim. Some of the Christian shopkeepers in that holy city are either on the verge of going out of business or have gone out of business for the simple reason that the Christian pilgrims riding in coaches driven by Muslims who refuse to stop close to the Christian shops. These shops are, in the main, places where Christian souvenirs of Bethlehem can be purchased. Without the Christian pilgrims, the shops' business dries up. Inasmuch as Bethlehem is located within the State of Israel, it is under Palestinian control. During our 2005 visit, we had to have our passports at the ready. It is not to be assumed that after arriving in Israel, one's passport need not be at hand. There are many places in Israel that are under Palestinian control.
At time of writing, the Annapolis, MD, USA President Bush-initiated meeting was ongoing.
If, as mentioned previously, Islam traces its roots to Abraham - as do the Christians and Jews - why do Muslims take such a bent view of non-Muslims in general and Jews and Christians in particular? Surely, all of Abraham's progeny ought to be the same. It is a moot question that is often asked worldwide but which no fathomable, sensible answer is forthcoming. Is there an answer to the dilemma that troubles much of the world? God is God and there is but one God; there was but one Abraham; granted he had Isaac and Ishmael, one legitimate and one not. Perhaps therein lays the catalyst for the difference of religion. While it is easy to say, "Let the matter lie," it truly is not that easy.
My Jewish friends in Jerusalem think it is not that easy as does my Palestinian - although a Christian - acquaintance who lives daily with the fear of the split. Certainly, life is not easy for many in Israel either in the Jewish section or the Palestinian sectors. All of this leads to the second point, stupidity.
The word 'stupid' means: showing little intelligence. The word 'intelligence' means: the ability to learn and know.
At this point, it would seem that most people regardless of religion would have the ability to learn and know that living next to another peacefully is the right thing to do; whereas, destroying one's neighbour is not the right thing to do. What is so darned difficult about that concept? Common sense, another trait that seems to be in short supply, appears to be unknown in some parts of the world. Sad, isn't it?
Well, there you have it. Some will agree while others will not; that is what freedom of expression means - we each have our beliefs, religious or otherwise, and nobody ought to be able to trample on that freedom. Take it or leave it, learn to live in harmony with one's neighbours be they across the street or across the ocean and halfway round the world.
Bob Orrick is a retired private tutor of English grammar, literature, poetry and Canadian history to off-shore youngsters. His pupils hail from such places as Taiwan, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Venezuela. He was previously in international marketing, was a ministerial assistant to a provincial cabinet minister, spent a few years as a reporter then editor of a community newspaper and enjoyed a career in the Royal Canadian Navy.