On a different note.

As we are all aware, there has been much talk of the Muslim religion and it's practices since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the war on terror to follow.   I'm really getting sick of being told to hate cultures and practices because a few extremists and their actions towards us in particular.    I believe that our cultural differences especially the difference in social values and religious beliefs,  have made it very difficult for either side to fully understand the other.

 The fact is... we were all raised and taught different values and beliefs.  We are fortunate to be in a country that allows free speech, the freedom of belief, the freedom of information.  It's against our manufactured rights to discriminate against anyone for their beliefs, gender, colour, etc etc.   We were all taught right from wrong... well most of us hopefully.   We are aware that our surroundings and experiences in those surroundings help determine our values and beliefs.  We also know that people are brought up differently, in different cultures.
It's very difficult for us to imagine living a life outside our own.  It's difficult for us to imagine what it would really be like to live in a place where most of our freedoms do not exist. 

We see the war on TV, we think of how horrible it is, but we hardly ever imagine what it would be like to have that as an everyday, life long, inescapable reality... especially as someone who was not taught any differently.

 It's hard to believe that some people are unable to see outside of their own culture, without any filters.  We have the unlimited access to information, and lot's of it.  We have the internet, freedom of speech, freedom of information, freedom of belief... so there is a lot of room for change, and open minded evaluation on our world.  Other's don't.   Some people live in a place where they are isolated from the rest of the world, and have no choice or reason not to believe what they are being told.  All people are guilty of this... we all believe that freedom of speech is good, and should never ever be taken away from us...  other's believe that freedom of speech is blasphemy... to question or disagree equals the work of an evil power.  It just depends on the society, and the conditions and obstacles for different cultural institutions.

It's like this.  When you're a little kid, you're told that the sky is blue, grass is green, and that we should drive on the right side of the road.  Eventually it becomes fact, and burned into our beliefs.   We used to think that left handed people were influenced by Satan. We believed this sooo much, we would tie a person's left hand behind their back, and force them to use their right.  If you weren't able to do this... they would beat the satan out of you.  Of course we, as a culture, do not believe this or practice this anymore, especially since we discovered scientific reasons why there are left and right handed people... but we once did.  My aunt is living proof... she can now write with both hands, but was born left handed.  She was beaten and tied up by nuns who honestly believed that what they were doing was right.  This shows how vastly the belief of what is right and wrong can vary.

While we believe that Sharia is wrong because it is against the human rights we have made for ourselves, Sharia practitioners believe that Sharia is the word of god, their creator, and not following it's rules and practices would result in going to hell, but not before being tortured and executed.  What side we take, depends on our upbringing and culture and it's institutions.  They see us telling them that they are wrong, the same way we see them telling us we are wrong.  We believe that their practices should not be forced upon us, just as they believe that our culture should not be forced upon them.

This means that, no side is going to give in to the other.  We should however look into why we have changed so much, while other cultures haven't.  There are numerous factors... there isn't one single explanation.  Some could say that discovery is a leading factor.  Take the tobacco movement as an example.  It was once very classy and cool to smoke.  As a culture we believed that smoking caused no harm to smokers, and second hand smokers, so we smoked in bars, restaurants, and even hospitals.  No one saw anything wrong with it, except maybe people who didn't like the smell.  Then we discovered that smoking causes a huge amount of serious health problems, and then later discovered that second hand smoke is also harmful.. if not more due to a lack of filtration.  Now, in Canada, laws have been put in place to stop smoking in public places... in fact they made it illegal to smoke in your car, if one of your fellow passengers was under the age of 16.  (They don't have ride programs.. but if you're caught doing it... there is a fine).  I also heard about a study regarding 3rd hand smoking... that's when someone smokes, and the chemicals from it get into fabrics and stay there long after you're done smoking... if someone else is exposed to that fabric, they are also exposed to harmful smoking chemicals.  You might think that's ridiculous, but if you went back in time and told someone from the 50's that they were going to ban smoking in public buildings, they would think that was out-of-this-world-crazy, and completely irrational and unattainable.

What I'm trying to say is... our beliefs and values vary, according to many many many factors.   We all truly believe that what we think of as right and wrong, is right and wrong... otherwise we wouldn't believe it.  How we are brought up, and our experience of life and culture, is how we determine values and beliefs.... as culture and experience differ, so do values and beliefs.  We can't force what we think is right on a culture that doesn't agree... you can't just make them see your way, especially through violence and hate... we know this from actions by both sides.  We aren't willing to change because we feel we are right, same goes for the terrorists. 

It's not a matter of who's right and who's wrong... it's a matter of why we believe what we do.  FULLY understanding the conditions and obstacles for cultural institutions, will allow peace between differences. War solves nothing... invading the middle east will not make them like us, or believe what we do... if anything, it will increase the differences between us. 

Uploaded 11/15/2010
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