Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Commentary

It is sometimes frightening to realize how small the world is. It is even more frightening to know that our fellow human beings sometimes lose all rationality. The recent outcry over the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in satirical forms has resulted in violent protests and destruction of embassies. The flames are burning bright on all sides. When you log on online to read blogs and the comments left on media sites, you realize that bigotry and ignorance is well and alive. You have some Danes (right wingers mostly) crying for war. You have Muslims thousands of miles away feeling angry and upset. You have people that cannot understand the fuss. You have more Muslims feeling appalled by the violence and hatred. It is really scary to see such a disjointed level of sentiments.

In instances like this, we hope Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations thesis does not hold up. This is a misunderstanding that stoked the fire already burning from years of distrust and antagonism. Violent reprisals are not to be condoned. The political opportunists on both sides of the fence as expectedly capitalized on the situation. However, we need to analyze the underlying sentiments.

Where do we draw the line between the freedom of press and responsibility to the larger society, especially when information can spread like wild fire? Where do we draw the line between legitimate dissatisfaction and the use of violent protests? Where do we draw the line of government responsibility and individual citizen-to-citizen accountability? These are the pains all of us have to go through, the process of maturing in a diverse, multicultural world. Society world wide is changing, with growing diversity that our systems and values may not be able to cope with yet.

But sometimes it is just a small step we need. Sometimes all it is takes is a bit of humility. The ability to accept that our way of life or our interpretation of things may not always be right is crucial. It is always an option not to take action that can cause hurt. It is also always an option to react with dignity to injury. We need to only add a dash of cultural sensitivity and acceptance of differences. We need to understand that we have no choice but to live with each other. We need to have good faith, in our actions and in our relationships as world citizens.


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