For generations now, news has been always sensational, something apart from the normal, something that evokes the irrational, tribal fear within us, something that needs immediate gratification to perplexing perpetual and often festering problems. Almost daily, we all fall prey to such follies, of not validating the truth behind such sensational messages; we get caught in with our own internal bias and become a proponent of that rumor. I too committed a faux pass by forwarding a message. Social Media Technology like WhatsUp may be new but forwarded messages is not a new phenomenon. We all have that instinct of contributing to the rumor mill by adding unvalidated views.
Our times are keenly watching radical Muslim onslaught and the reaction from their moderates. However, Islam is not the only religion displaying radical aggressiveness. We see that radical manifestation spreading gradually amongst other religions too. Views and perspectives are getting percolated and barriers and prejudices are being built. Humanity, and especially our next generation, is getting caught in polarizing views that are diametrically opposite. Biases are subjugated and getting percolated through these media and the real enemy is we, those users who are not validating information and adding forwards to rumor mills.
I have two questions to both the polar sides –
1. Irrespective of the content of either message or the ground realities, does it add to social harmony, stability and peace?
2. We all agree with our believe systems. But have we reached out and made attempts to understand how many agree with our polar views?
Religion is sacrosanct to Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhist equally. However, while practicing our faith, we have purposefully chosen to interpret a selected meaning and introduced our own bias. Are these medieval biases helping us? Is there a need to revisit and decipher the message for humanity (and possibly expunge the old messages that tear us apart). We need an ideology to guide us through these trying and tormenting times, to stabilize the new norm of globalization, ideological conflict and technological evolution. However, while we are struggling to achieve that, let us behave responsibly by not forwarding any message that will deprive the community of harmony and peace. Let us not forward any sensational provocative news.
For generations now, news has been always sensational, something apart from the normal, something that evokes the irrational, tribal part within us, something that needs immediate gratification to perplexing perpetual problems. If I say a particular political or religious leader devoured a person say, another businessman or a slender gender, it immediately evokes that sense of interest. However, if I write another article on how the same person completed his job successfully, it is devoid of news.
We all are prone to such scandalous traps. This morning, I saw a WhatsApp message that talked how a Canadian Mayor refused to ban pork from school Canteen. Since the message aligned with my own ideology, I forwarded that message to a select few, from mostly my own religion and a few Muslim friends whom I consider close and with whom I yearn to have this dialog (not to hurt their sentiments but to bridge the chasm of ideological differences by overtly expressing rather than behind the back passionate discussions.
My two Muslim brothers responded. One, whom I can call neo-liberal Abdul, a doctor by profession, based in UAE, another Aslam, a traditional mainstream based in US (names changed to anonymize identity). I am appending Abdul ‘s comments (the neo-liberal Muslim friend who is practicing as a Surgeon in UAE).
Aslam, my friend from our small home town, now settled in US felt the message was a hoax and forwarded another message that supported the ban on pork.
The above are two polar extremes, a version between two hardliners…
Almost daily, we all fall prey to such follies, of not validating the truth behind such sensational messages; we get caught in with our own internal bias and become a proponent of that rumor. I, however, have two questions to both the polar sides –
- How many believers agree with the other diametrically opposite polar extreme?
- Irrespective of the content of either message or ground realities, does it add to social harmony, stability and peace?
That’s the concern with identity – religion is far secondary in the notion of identity and humanity is caught in this unrelenting quagmire, neither polar side attempting to reach out to the other (and understanding what the others feel) and neither intending to move out of status quo… including you and I.
We feel our identity – as a nation, as an ethnic stalk, as a religion and a culture are superior to others.
We are so much wrapped and warped in this notion of self-prophesying truth that we rarely think of stepping out of the cocoon of self-serving identity calamity and ever venture out to seek truth.
Muslim Protest and Rallies
I have never seen a rally a Muslim terrorist bombed when San Bernardino, or Manchester or London Bridge. I have seen Muslims protesting against Trump’s ban on immigrants from six nations (of note, he did not ban Muslims from other 54 Muslim nations). The world is often surprised to see how Muslims flocked to protest Trump’s decision. I have no intent to politicize this issue but Muslims could have seen this issue independent of Trumps background and perspective. They could have asked a simple question –
- Has he banned all the immigrants from all the 60 Muslim nations?
- What’s wrong in banning immigrants from strive torn nation sending people prone for violence? Are we not screening and doing background check (in a granular way to validate the same intent)?
Agreed Palestine-Israel issue is perpetually hot, agreed India-Pakistan border skirmishes are unrelenting but when will Muslim rise in opposing any incidence of violence, be it San Bernardino, London Bridge or the concert at Manchester?
No one can be spared for violence or perpetuating violence directly or indirectly but those who stand muted to violence, especially to their own brethren’s, commit bigger atrocities by tacitly encouraging such phenomenon. It is easy to assume Muslims are only responsible for such aggressive behavior. Not true, radicalism is on the rise in India too and India is not an exception. We see pockets of radical outbursts gradually expanding and confluencing.
Mumbai Muslims are iconoclast
If Muslims are responsible, so are others who are following the same path of aggressive assertion. Why can’t we oppose our own son who does a wrong? When we oppose our son doing a wrong, the message is beyond moral, it enshrines our faith in humanity and it emboldens our own values and virtues. I admire Mumbai Muslims, who refused a burial ground to Ajmal Kasab or the mother of the London Bridge bomber, who said, she will devote her life to find how much extremism has infiltrated her society and how best to stop.
Fighting over Cow Slaughter and Pork Ban
In India banning cow slaughter in in vogue right now. We have forgotten that India belongs to its people, we have also forgotten that it is respecting cow is a vestige of a transition to an agrarian society. Of course, she serves multitudes of reasons, foremost amongst those her status of being at the epicenter of an entire utility world we created cow being at the center of this agrarian ecosystem. Do we really need to ban cow and stop eating beef? Do we truly want to impose our ideology on the minority, who practice different religious belief? A solution for cow proponents – those who vehemently oppose beef ban, can buy all those old cows marked for beef and protect them at quarantine with their money. Protecting them with personal donation will offer two fold advantages – a feeling of piousness and the ultimate service towards cows.
Is it right to ban pork from a multicultural multiethnic school canteen? Are we opposing inclusiveness? Where are we heading? It is a number game. If we are a majority, we want to dominate. We want our will to flourish over others.
Religion for the Global World
Protecting cow or pork ban was perfectly fine in a small compartmentalized old world. With globalization, technological innovation and evolution, we need to evolve with distinctly different ideologies that would support harmony and peace to coexist humanity and assimilate and adopt to the newer challenges of homogenized world.
Do we ban WhatsUp or Twitter or Facebook?
Certainly not! I need a religion that guides humanity to see above ourselves, an ideology that offers a perspective to see a diverse perspective other than ours, an ability to withstand criticism, and an ability to accept that diversity with sagacity. . If we are wrong, we should have the audacity to admit, unwavering support to wrong will never espouse the cause of humanity. We need a religion that will enlighten us from advocating such rumors, an ability to validate the information I receive, and think through (about humanity) before forwarding.