Friday, February 10, 2006

It's All Relative

When Rev. Joseph Lowery stepped to the lecturn at Coretta Scott King's funeral, he leveled a blast at the Bush Administration. He was very blunt in his point of view. Afterwards, many lauded him for his courage, while others assailed him for his crassness. Which point of view is correct?

Over in Europe, Muslims became incensed at some cartoons published in Danish publications that depicted the Islamic prophet in a less than positive light. Many people considered the cartoons to be disrespectful and vulgar, while others defended them as being part of free speech. Which point of view is correct?

My dear Watson, it's all relative!

If Lowery had spoken at a conservative's funeral and had used his speaking opportunity to laud the president, we'd be hearing the same howls coming from opposite directions. If an Arab newspaper had published cartoons depicting Jesus in a less than positive manner, there would be the same kind of furor, only that the critics and supporters would switch roles.

Truth and perception are relative.

How each of us looks at any given situation wholly is dependent on our religious, philosophical and political perspective. In term's of humanity, there is no such animal as absolute truth.

Everything is relative!


  1. About those Danish cartoons: they were published in september 2005 and now suddenly everybody's furious and all. Even some Egyptian newspapers published them in november.
    It's just a very small part of the population that has been swept up by the imams and even the authorities.
    It's kinda hypocrite to start riots 5 months after they appeared. Now suddenly Europe is the big bad nation....
    Also here in Belgium, muslims state that they are not happy with the appearing of the cartoons, but at least they share their thoughts in a peaceful way. No external (governmental) party to influence them.
    I really hope everything blows over and the real discussion can start over again: what's up with the anti-western vision of democracy (if there is such a thing)...

  2. I think a lot of the outrage coming from Islam is completely warranted, and yet it is a very sad, tragic fact that they choose such violent means to express that outrage.

    The Arabs, and hence Arab Muslims, have been bullied, exploited, used as pawns, subjected to Western cultural influences that have hit them like a tsunami, all without any respect for their way of life or claims to their land. Just watch "Lawrence of Arabia" or read about the imperialistic meddlings in Arabia, where the rest of the world looked on the region as their pie to divide up and consume, the natives be damned.

    To top it all off, whenever there are legitimate issues that need to be addressed, like human rights abuses, or military issues, because they have been SO outrageously demonized, the U.S., Britain, Russia, etc. respond with threats and muscle instead of peaceseeking diplomacy.

    Once again, it all comes back to a need for a paradigm shift in how people treat each other, how countries relate to each other, how power is weiled and/or regulated.

  3. As usual, you guys are right on. It IS relative. I heard one of the editorial page editors from the local paper interviewed on the radio this morning. He said the paper has received several letters in the past week from conservative writers pushing for the publication of the Muhammed cartoons to "stand up for free speech" and "show solidarity with Europe."

    Excuse me? These are the same people who would scream bloody murder - and do - whenever something viewed remotely disrespectful toward christianity appears in the paper. And Europe? They do realize France is in Europe, right?

    Not to rehash an earlier debate, but I really like what Howard said about the violence of these protests. This is a predictable result of an increasing worldwide power differential. When "the west" and particularly the U.S. has such a monopoly on force, the opportunity for meaningful peaceful protest is lost. The U.S. can safely ignore protest, so violence is seen as the only option.

    Think of the child who feels she is being mistreated. A well-adjusted child will first address the issue with whoever is in power. If she does not receive a satisfactory response, she will either swallow her anger or protest in a more vociferous manner. Pretty soon, you have a tantrum. After enough episodes where politeness, pleading and crying get no constructive response, the tantrum will become the first response rather than the last.

    Look at what is happening in Niger as armed insurgents force oil operations out. Look at the French riots of last year. People will only be ignored, dismissed and spat upon for so long.

  4. Brad,
    You offer a compelling description of the dynamics of child abuse! As a former state child abuse investigator, I came across the circumstances you describe over and over again. It's very insightful observation and is a superb example of how abuse plays out in all phases of life. Thanks for making a great point!

  5. You guys are absolutely right, but the point I was trying to make is the fact that the commotion which now takes place is merely a simple excuse to stand against Western ideologies. Of course, we've profited from them and their oil resources, no doubt, but if I look at my own country, Belgium, and put their situation in the same perspective, I can only conclude that they don't really know what's it about.
    Recently, we've had some lawsuits against radical imams who preached anti-christian thoughts and therefor have been banned from our country. I think it's the same thing happening again: anti-western philosophy towards a population who doesn't really know what's it all about. I think they only know 2 big names: Israel and America. Which isn't a crime but more a bit of narrowminded vision. In my hometown, Antwerp, we do have problems with muslim people, there's no denying truth, but the problem lies in the fact that they fear a capitalistic way of life, while on the other hand, they do everything to be part of it (if I look at the clothes they're wearing, the phones and cars they have). So in that perspective, it's all just a bit hypocrite.
    I can't, of course, judge the lifes of them who live in the Middle-East, since I don't know how their situation is (tv =/= truth). I can only draw conclusion from what I know from my own country.
    The main question is: how many opportunities do you have to create for 1 person? We are obliged to go to school until the age of 18. So everyone gets the same education. There is no difference in ethnicy, religion, .... Yet, our cultures differ so much that extremes have been created and are now the main reason of their hatred towards us. Maybe this is something we should think about instead of trying to create a multi-cultural society. Maybe we weren't supposed to live amongst each other in peaceful situations. I don't know, I'm just a young guy trying to get along with everybody :)

  6. Bert, you bring up some excellent points. The whole idea of how people should or should not adapt to a culture that is not their own is a huge can of worms. I do think all "western" countries bear the brunt of Islamic hatred that is aimed primarily at the U.S. and Israel. That is part of our legacy, which began long before George Bush took office but which has unfortunately been exacerbated manyfold during his time in office.

    I'm hesitant to be overly critical of people who appear hypocritical by adopting some of the accoutremonts of western civilization while protesting against it. When you are a minority living in an oppressive culture, it is very difficult to remain ideologically pure and survive emotionally.

  7. You're correct, Brad, that's why I'm afraid of what's going to happen when the oilreserves run dry. I'm 25 now, let's say we have about 50 years before everything has been consumed.
    This means that within 25 or 30 years, the prices will go up in an exponential way. Can you imagine a retired person (by that time I will reach retirement) have to spend all his money just on warming his house? This is insane. That's one of the main reasons why I don't want children at this time. I cannot garantuee their future.
    Ok, maybe I'm a bit pessimistic and we'll all be driving hydro-fueled cars, but can you imagine how the Middle-East will respond when their will be no more oil-dollars? I don't think we we'll need another cartoon to start a new war!

    But first things first, maybe it's best if we start cleaning out our own country, Belgium, from the disease that it has inherited since 1830.

  8. bleh, no edit button :)

    Middle-East will respond when their will be no...

    when there will be no



Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.