I am, like most people, opposed to the aggressors of the world. But unlike in movies, video games and religious books, the aggressors of the world are part of an intricate system and are not that easy to blame. In other words, they are not as responsible as we would like them to be. I know you have an idea at this point about where this article will go, but that will not be its conclusion.
Before I jump in, I want to clarify that I am going to talk in terms of races. I am not a racist, but I guess most people in the West, in the light of these reoccurring events, are putting all Muslims and all Arabs in one group, painted in the colors of those that made the most waves among them. And I guess those that want to make the most waves love this. So I’m going to talk about this large group, that I will call “them” and “us” will be… whites, basically (even though we are also separated into blondes and other shades of hair and skin as that guy with a small mustache pointed out, but bear my arrogance for calling myself white for a few minutes, please!).
As I said, the world is complicated, so I didn’t know how the Charlie Hebdo event could be prevented in the future (not that someone asked me, but I like searching for solutions of complex problems, in a way that will keep the world complex). Should we really be allowed that much freedom of expression or should we keep our mouths shut from time to time? After all, I heard about a comedian being arrested for saying he is on the side of the terrorist. Why was his freedom of expression being punished by those that support it? I, also, didn’t like the joy some kids showed behind the reporter who was saying what a terrible thing has happened at Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters. I realized that this must be because I’m a bad loser, just like those kids in the cartoons my daughter watches. And even though those kids get the lesson in less than 20 minutes, it took me a long while to understand that, to be a better loser, you should focus on others, and not be that selfish. Apparently the media is not that influential when it teaches you how to become an adult, ha?
But then I read the title of an article saying that “Pope Francis is using the wife-beater’s defense” and it hit me (maybe this wasn’t the best word to use here): of course there shouldn’t be a restriction on expression! (For a while it would seem that I picked a part, but bear with me a little more still.) People should be allowed to say what they have on their minds! How else would you know if they like you or not? How else would you know if they believe you or not? How else would you know if an information you have is wrong or not, or even ridiculous? How would you know if what you say hurts someone and how can that person heal those wounds if he’s not made aware of to them? I think we should insist a little bit on this last idea: if someone says something that hurts me, is because of me! If what he said was indeed hurtful objectively, than everybody hearing it, even himself, would suffer. That is true when someone hits you with a hammer on the finger, for example (although there are people that don’t feel pain, there are some medical reasons for which we should not try to be like that). The hammer blow is objectively hurtful, even if you don’t speak the language of the man that delivers it, even if you apply it yourself. Words, attitudes and gestures, on the other hand, are only as painful as we let them to be. This doesn’t mean that we can say anything. I am not in favor of racism, for example. The criterion I use here is: you are allowed to criticize things that are true and that can change. For example, race and sexual orientation cannot change, but beliefs and weight can. This doesn’t mean that they should, necessarily, though. Also, what you say should make sense. If you think that you’re better than another person because of the color of your skin, you should specify better at what. If it’s solving math problems, let’s say, than first, who cares and second, to be a race thing it should be the stupidest individual in your race should know at least equal to the smartest individual in the other race, otherwise it is an individual difference, not a race (or species) difference. Even if some people talk about racial tendencies, race is not a criterion for job selection, genocide or exclusion. Each individual is different. If one of my countryman wan a gold medal, doesn’t mean I’m not lazy.
But, indeed, there is a difference between transmitting information and mocking. First of all, mocking is fun, and the idea is more digestible and gets more attention and second, is meant to persuade. When you are ridiculed about something, you tend to evaluate it with more passion then when you are just pointed that thing out. Like when you wear fur and someone says “you shouldn’t wear fur in this century! We can make clothes from materials that don’t scream when they die!” is not as powerful as “look! The Neanderthal got out again!” Why do people wear fur anyway? Who thinks fur is sexy? Who wants to have sex with foxes and rabbits anymore? And even if someone would want to have sex with these poor animals, they would probably prefer the original! Also, who wants a guy like that in their life? Getting horny at furry animals? My wife said that there are more messages that fur gives: “I’m primitive” (meaning that “I hope you don’t expect me to say something intelligent” and “of course I want sex, can’t you see how many dead animals I’m carrying around? Doesn’t this smell of bodies turn you on? I know you like to have sex with cadavers, and that’s exactly the man I want to meet!”; and for the man says: “chivalry is thousands of years into the future for me, just so you know”); “I’m noble” is another message (meaning that “I need to carry these cadavers with me to try to convince people that I’m a product of inbreeding; my looks alone I don’t think they’re convincing enough, and this is such a valued thing in this society!”); and “I’m rich / I have a high social status” (that’s great! But why do you need a skin of an animal taken while still alive or anally electrocuted to death, and with a horrible life until that horrible death? It adds nothing to your value to be cruel, ignorant, and caring just for those that are similar to you! If people thought you were an asshole and now you are wearing fur, they’ll still think you’re an asshole. It doesn’t make you a better person in any way. You just paid those psychopaths that killed those animals to try to convince others that you are also a psychopath, you just didn’t have the opportunity to skin an animal alive yourself yet). I insisted on this because I wanted to provide an example for my mocking model. Obviously I stand for what I said. And if you think that the rest of the animals don’t matter because they are not made out of urinated mud that God used to create his special, sophisticated and arrogant monkeys, you should know that we are all monkeys inside!
So we are trying to convince people of ideas, not merely transmit them. And that’s ok, because if we don’t, others will. If I don’t convince you religion is ridiculous, someone might convince you it’s real. The only form of expression I oppose is lying. You should not be allowed to say something officially correct if it has not been proven correct, like in science, basically or like science should be, because there are some dogmas there, as well.
Ok, that was my point on freedom of speech/expression/whatever. You shouldn’t shut up out of fear! And you should be allowed to mock if you find it ridiculous! But what about those kids celebrating the death of those few people that had a job that they actually loved (cartoonists)? Of course they should be allowed to spin the knife. We are treating this situation as a game, and you should let the supporters rejoice. The problem is not their showing off, is that we are treating people’s death as scores to a game. The kids clearly thought that they were on the other side of the conflict. It is us and them, and they had a success and they were celebrating. And this is a really painful and horrible game we are playing with one another! But the good news is that this is not your typical football game. We should not be split into teams because we wear different colors!
Another article that influenced me was one where a radical Muslim stopped being radical after reading “Animal Farm” by Orwell. What impressed me most was how he became a radical: because he was a victim of racism. Not because the Quran was such a fascinating book, but because he was compelled by the society he was living in to join the “other” team. Racism draws a line and people will choose a team before they choose the truth: we should know this from Maslow’s seven levels pyramid. We all want to be loved, respected and appreciated. People that stand alone in search of truth, can offer these to themselves, but most people look to satisfy them in those around them. If we are not there to give love (and I’m talking about giving it to everybody here, even to our own children) they will find another team and they will fight you. I’m not saying we should love them out of fear, I’m just pointing out the complex system that I was mentioning in the beginning when I said that the aggressors are not as easy to blame as Nazis in video games.
We all hate to be treated like less than others, don’t we? We all think we have this special something that makes us better than everyone just to compensate from feeling ordinary and a background to the movie stars, singers, athletes and other popular people. And having a special associations also contribute to feeling superior: like being part of the supporters of a team, fans of an artist, or the only few people of this planet that actually understood what God meant, not that you thought for yourself, but because you had the incredible luck of meeting one of those few that understood in the precise way the only version of God that is true out of thousands (just so you know, there are 38.000 Christian denominations and… many Islamic branches (see the link at the end), according to Wikipedia).
Islam, just like any other system of beliefs (religious, related to skin color and so on), convinces people that they are superior if they are part of it. If people feel loved they will tend to believe that they and those that show them love are superior together. If they are not loved by the people of that foreign country that they live in or just know about, they will associate with those people that love them, just like we all do. And so we are fighting for who we think is right, who we think deserves a better life, who we think should profit from whom.
The radicals, meaning those that make the news or those behind these famous ones, nurture this superiority, just like Hitler nurtured it before, just like most American presidents (especially those in movies) and all the other presidents (with some possible exceptions) and ordinary people that we generally call patriots or racists (which is basically the same thing if you think about it: “we are better because I happened to be born this way”). These radicals just love it when you hate ordinary people from the right race, because they’re happy to recruit them. We are not divided by default into these groups, though. Each person can choose to pick or not pick a side. You can help with the choice. The radicals don’t already have them on their team or in their pockets, but if you treat them like that, they will. I don’t think that many Muslims want the world to look like the country they fled from! I am not on Whites’ side or Romanians’ side, or Europeans’ side, or even Atheists’ side; I am on compassion’s side, respect’s side and freedom’s from fear side. My beliefs and behaviors are defined by my values, not by circumstances or by the group of people that agrees with me about some subject. We are all that free to choose. The society still teaches us to think in terms of superior and inferior people. We understand ≠ to mean < or >. We understand that if I am better at you at whatever random task (or just someone that looks like me or lives within the same randomly designed border) that I am a better person than you entirely. But I hope you see how far from the truth this belief is, by simply looking at it!
States already adopted this policy of love, it is just that the people living inside them didn’t join in quite as much. And is not all their fault. The people moving into these countries, although they came in them because these were better places (safer, more intellectually challenging, better life conditions and so on) will feel outsiders, will feel that they don’t belong there, since they didn’t contribute to this well-being in the past and they modestly think that their contribution will not be useful for the future. In order to feel useful, they might believe that they are conquering this country for those of the same team with them. If they don’t feel as valuable members of this community, they will be valuable members of other competing communities. So we, the westerners can choose if we want to be more those of us that want a more civilized, respectful and equal world or we want to strengthen the team that wants hierarchy. I know that most westerners are also into hierarchy, but since we have the power now, it’s us who needs to change first. We must show respect now (to people, not to ridiculous ideas), we must invite them into dialog, friendship and working together. Just like Christians and Atheists: we might poke at each-other for our beliefs, but when we ask one another for a task, we treat that person with respect and confidence.
I’m sure this already happens all over the world with Muslims and I tend to believe that these people did not become what we call “terrorists”. There are so many Muslims in the world and so many in Western countries and still chances of being killed by a terrorist are less than winning the lottery, if you think about it. It is a million times (I don’t know the exact statistic) more likely to die in a car accident. So, this approach that was implemented works; I’m not saying anything new. The world is moving into this direction of befriending and that is why many Muslims are part of friendly communities. By invading them with armed forces we are not going the right way. It will not lead to more peace and certainly peace should not come out of fear! What is this? Hunger games?
I do think we can do more about spreading the love, although with an approach that seems harsh. I believe countries/cities should force people to mingle. Not to allow other countries to make a smaller country inside their own, but integrate people among their people! Neighborhoods should be mandatorily mixed and so should businesses (even those owned by foreigners)! This was very efficient in the past when, during tribes’ formation, there were laws against maintenance of clans (“thou shall not have sex with your brother or sister”). There is less hate and anger when the borders are unclear, because people see that they have a lot more in common that they first thought.
Thus, to come back to the title, terrorism should be singled out. We should embrace those that want to live with us. These people bring the gift of their lives and skills and through them we have the opportunity to promote our values of respect and equality. The world is not separate into whites, some other people, and Muslim terrorists. But you can help make it so (even if you’re a Muslim). We should single out each individual whether Arab, Muslim or both (or white, or black or whatever) and treat him (or her, obviously) as the equal that he is. Criticize his belief, like you would a Christian’s or someone’s beliefs about chemistry if they’re wrong, but always make a difference between beliefs and people. Remember you believed in Santa Claus once! Obviously, this works best if you are rational. As a devout Christian criticizing a devout Muslims it’s like two kids debating whether the movie or the cartoons captured the true nature of Superman.
Plus, there is no chance in Islam conquering the world! Especially if we educate our children and teach them critical thinking, or, at least, to not believe in fairytales and magic (which means “something that I don’t want to know how it’s done! Shut up! I’ll kill you (by blowing you up / by burning you at the stake)!”). If we make them curious, this is good enough! And no religion can subjugate an informed atheist or a curios being! Who can convince you to believe in Santa Claus again (and give him money through his subsidiaries)?
In conclusion, to live longer (all of us) we should stop exploiting animals, we should teach science (and stop exploiting animals in science, also), and embrace the diversity of clothing and gestures, if they’re not violent. We should treat as equal, and adults, and lovingly even those people from races that don’t try to kill us, as well. Not to prevent something, but because they’re awesome. Also, the people from our own races, because they are just as interesting. Basically, just put on a smile and get out there! Of course, only after you tell me to f**k off for giving you advices!
One more aspect I’d like to touch on! It’s my opinion (it actually belongs to many people, but some forget it applies to other religions as well) that religion is an instrument to control the masses. Charlie Hebdo was a pointless attack, really. Even if they get people not to draw the Prophet all over the world, this makes no difference for the ordinary Muslim. Is not like they were all buying the magazine for the text and were bothered by the pictures. At the end of the attack, the poor people stayed poor, the sick stayed sick, the injustices remained, water still don’t come to irrigate the fields, medicines are not brought and hospitals are not built. We are played like idiots, fighting for illusory causes, thinking we won something even though we clearly go home with empty hands. They didn’t attack the leader of an oil company, forcing him to pay more so those people could live slightly better, they didn’t attack their own leaders for spending the money they used to make silver cars or building artificial luxury islands for everybody but their own countrymen that are not royal, instead of building infrastructures and taking care of their people. And those poor people are our brothers. And just as them, we are also played by the rich. Going there to “protect liberty” actually brings more coercion on their liberty and, with it, to your own. Clearly they will want to retaliate and your state will have to protect its citizens by keeping them more under control and, thus, limiting their liberty. Remember that most murders are not done by terrorists. Cars are much deadlier and the state hasn’t invested that much in car sensors, because car businesses would have went bankrupt. Making weapons is also good business. Don’t think the rich care that much about you or that capitalism (or communism) are such great economic systems that are worth your life! You are just being used, you are thought that you should fight poor people from other countries for resources, but it is not them that steal them from you! Open your eyes and open your heart! Love is the true freedom.
I’ll be the first to admit that it sounds better than reality seems to be. I’ve heard many people not trusting their friends. Still, we have friends anyway, and the reason we are hurt by them (when we are) is because they are afraid of being hurt, usually because someone convinced them that they are alone against the world. But this holds true as long as we believe in it. Of course you should know that if you want someone to keep a secret, you should be the first to do it and that you should be ready to lose that friend (and the money) when you borrow him money, but apart from that, open up… and love thy neighbor! Most of us like friendly people, don’t we? Some people really hate them, I know, but what can you do? Be friendly with them as well; they’ll feel guilty for hating you, at least. Obviously, I don’t suggest you should force yourself in a martyr fashion! Some people behave really annoying and frustrating. You don’t need to focus on those, although you will be appreciated by society if you do.
So this is my love to you, all the powerless people in the world that want to make a change! For those who want to leave the world a slightly better than you found it, as the saying goes! I consider you my brothers (even if you like it or not), and I hope we’ll work together for more equality because this is, the way I see it, the key to social happiness! Imagine how much more we can accomplish and how much time we can invest in doing what we really love if we wouldn’t struggle so much to survive or to fight alone our injustice! Of course it won’t be perfect, but it will be better! And better is good enough for now! Please don’t follow the media and chew the situation yourselves!
If you reached another conclusion, I’d love to hear it, together with the reason, obviously! And if you feel offended in any way, please criticize me, I got way too arrogant and bitter lately, I could use some humiliation!