Let the people of America decide whether or not to have a Muslim Center there at Ground Zero.
But let's not let anyone make any decisions based on faulty thinking, rumors or outright political lies. Democracy only works when there is respect and mutual understanding of differences (and not mere tolerance of them).
In my own opinion, perhaps the best thing to do would be to have a non-sectarian place of congregation, where people of all faiths and traditions, and those who are atheists or agnostics can gather and learn from each other. But I know this civilized notion is a far cry from what most people would believe possible. But how are we to put an end to religious-based intolerance, prejudice and discrimination if we do not start to make all of us hoopleheads congregate together and share?
Another alternative would be to have a center for each faith, including something for secular humanists, so we do not leave out anyone. We could have a mosque, a cathedral, a church, a buddhist temple, a pagan temple (Wiccans and others could decide whether or not to call it whatever it is to be called), a bahai temple, a synogogue, etc.
We are all on this planet together, whether we like it or not, so we had better start to learn to like it.
The side of people against having a Muslim Center have made some outrageous claims about Islam based on prejudice and fear. It is time to put those to rest.
Islam and Muslims (followers of Islam) did NOT attack the US on September 11th, 2001. Radical extreme militants who follow Islam (and used their religion as a primary excuse to carry out their crimes) attacked the US. You can say I am playing with semantics, but I retort with the fact I have a yearning for accuracy and truth.
Words are OUR tools. We are not the tools of our words. It is time we start using them correctly, like upright human beings would use them. It is time to realize that with words come imagery and thinking. We wouldn't have developed into human beings (from out of our hominid ancestors) if we didn't develop the capacity for language and the symbolic thinking patterns that emerged from it (music, art, religion, language, etc). If you think this idea wrong, then explain to me which of our current fields of endeavor (philosophy, and again music et allia) could exist without a capacity for language? There are none.
Language is often thought of as speech by many people. But we have complex languages based on gesture used by non-hearing people. Complex codes and symbols that do not rely on speech have been used for millenia. And brain-injured people exhibit an array of complex speech patterns mimicking language without any symbolic understanding displayed.
I digressed to hopefully start some reflection about who we are as a species, collectively and individually.
Religions are often cited as both one of the highest and one of the most atrocious forms of human expression. And people are still fighting causes as if their own religion was the ultimate truth with all others being false. The truth of the matter is higher than this territorial pissing contest. Think of words again now. How we use them. How we use voice and gesture and symbol along with our words to convey separation or togetherness.
We can choose to continue the cycle of fear and hatred, suspicion and excuses for doing horrible things to each other. Or we can choose to grow up. It is our choice.
[Friday, September 17, 2010]