“The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something you know nothing about – yet refuse to investigate”- Dr. Wayne Dyer
What do we stand for? What are the non-negotiables? The principals we live by?
I’m asking myself these questions this morning, after a few restless nights. I’m agitated, restless and frankly dumbfounded by the level of ignorance currently being displayed by certain people. There is no "nice" way to express this.
This is an atypical post for me, as I don't usually make commentary on recent news, but in light of recent events it's a pill I just can't bring myself to swallow. If you are connected to the internet you probably will have noticed that social media is telling a different story these days, and it’s been very revealing. The recent acts of terrorism have provoked fear, amplified ignorance and fed bigotry and intolerance. History is repeating itself, and we are a world divided. It’s evident that discrimination and racism based on color, creed or religion is not going away.
Have we not learned anything?
We speak of religious freedom about how we cannot judge a faith by the actions of those that are so obviously far removed from the basic tenants of their religion, but the actions of some say otherwise. The branding and labeling has escalated, and biased, sweeping generalizations and assumptions are being made.
So now, Islam is a target more than ever before. A group of radical extremists, a group that has strayed so far from the path of the true virtues and the teachings of Islam, have become the poster children for Muslims across the globe. ISIS's actions have been vehemently opposed and denounced by Muslim leaders and scholars worldwide, who are calling them, “a violation of Islamic law and not representative nor in accordance to the mainstream teachings of Islam”. Yet the fear mongering continues and despite the condemnation of the actions of these radicals, people still choose to invest in ignorance.
Yes I agree, what has taken place in recent weeks is beyond tragic. Innocent lives lost as a result of insanity and terrorism, not Islam. But let's not forget, the numbers of people that are living at the effect of this violence are in the millions and reaches far beyond France, Egypt and Mali. Thousands of Syrians, civilians, including children have been killed and millions have been forced to flee their homes. Mosque burnings, hate crimes, vandalism and threats of violence against Muslims are becoming far more prevalent as the media continues to stir anti-Muslim sentiments. And the back lash doesn't stop there, Donald Trump's ludicrous suggestion of implementing a database to track Muslims in the U.S. is reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
When does this madness stop?
People I know, that my family has shared a meal with, have been freely sharing their discriminatory views on the subject on social media in recent days. Freedom of expression is one thing, but recruiting a spreading bigotry is quite another. Xenophobia is running rampant, people fear what they don’t understand and in buying into the hysteria they are fueling ignorance, discrimination and intolerance. Disappointed hardly suffices to express how I feel about this. My silence and inaction in this matter of bigotry would only serve to devalue and negate my values and principals I hold dear. I've spent too much of my life compromising my beliefs for the sake of keeping the peace. I'm not willing to do so going forward.
“Prejudice is the child of ignorance” – Samuel Hoffenstein
These people denounce the actions of these extremists, but in promoting and sharing discriminatory propaganda towards another religion, culture or creed they are buying into the same mentality. Essentially, there is nothing that differentiates the two. Both sides are adding fuel to an already raging fire and the result is the same. Continued and amplified intolerance, further separation between people and a means to justify inexcusable behavior.
The objective of terrorism is to provoke fear, and that collective fear is breeding widespread discrimination that is leading to the denial of humanitarian assistance to those that are truly in need. Bigotry can’t be sugar coated and the effects of it are costing us our humanity. The Syrian people (Muslim and Christian alike) have left a war zone, they have left everything behind as they have been faced with the harsh reality that their families will face certain death if they stay. Something that the vast majority of us cannot possibly comprehend. We are talking about basic life necessities; food, medical care, shelter and water. They are our fellow human beings that require humanitarian aid. Instead, those desensitized to their plight choose to connect religion to the actions of a terrorist organization as an excuse.
Surely those that are so opposed to allowing refugees sanctuary in our country would change their tune if the shoe was on the other foot. Should they be the object of discrimination based on their religion or race, we can be certain that there would be an uproar like no other. We live in a country that allows us many freedoms, some of which we take for granted. How could we as decent human beings become so merciless to those in need? Have we become so self-righteous and disillusioned that we would deny another human being the right to safety and freedom?
We are not living in the dark ages, we heave a wealth of resources at our fingertips. We can choose to educate ourselves and step out of the confines of ignorance. We cannot afford to be complacent and turn a blind eye to blatant discrimination. The actions of a few do not define the majority. The responsibility is in our hands to gather the information we need to make informed decisions. Some say ignorance is bliss, but we reap what we sow.
Are you planting the seeds of peace, love and acceptance or growing a tangled garden of hatred, prejudice and intolerance?
By engaging in the spread of material that is aimed at further spreading intolerance and discrimination directed towards either a religion or race equates to throwing gasoline on a fire and serves no other purpose but to perpetuate a further division amongst humanity. Food for thought.