Skip to content

The fetish between us

June 7, 2005

Somewhere in between Fundamentalism and Intolerance is Respect. As far as being a good person is concerned, the main thing I want to impart to my kids is to Respect others and do no harm.

Somewhere in between Irrational Jingoism and Total Apathy is Open Mindedness. As far as being a good thinker is concerned, the main thing I want to impart to my kids is to keep an Open Mind and think critically.

Somewhere in between Farce and Tragedy is Irony. As far as having a sense of humor is concerned, the main thing I want to impart to my kids is to recognize Irony and when someone’s said something but meant something else, and to know when it’s funny and when it’s an outright lie.

I see the political developments of late as troubling. Fundamentalism throughout the world and at home is being given so much attention in our ‘media’ that it is gaining power over the Public Mind. Unquestioning Jingoes are all too willing to go along with what is being portrayed. Muslims are judged by the actions of the fundamentalist terrorists. Fundamentalist Christians at home, emboldened by the imagery of a ‘Holy War’– the War on Terror, (yes, we’ve declared war on a feeling) –gain power over frightened people desperate for clarity in a world of mixed signals: We are safer now because Saddam is out of power. Bin Laden doesn’t concern me. Al-Qaeda cells operating in the US are preparing for another attack. It’s not, “Will they attack?” It’s, “When will they attack?”

Perhaps the most disturbing part of this whole shift in the Public Mind is the use of symbols to stifle the human emotion of empathy. A flag sailing high over the Baseball stadium elicits a sense of pride and unconditional loyalty. Ubiquitous yellow ribbons elicit a sense of reverence for the valor and sacrifice of our servicemen, and serve to preempt any dissent over the war. The response becomes automatic: The United States does no wrong. Support the troops. Freedom is on the march.

How else can we explain, except for this acquiescence to symbolism, the recent conversation about Qur’an desecration and the minutiae of whether one was actually flushed down the toilet or merely dropped on the floor, or stepped on, or urinated on..? Who else but the fully indoctrinated, clutching their flags and yellow ribbons, could look the other way in the face of photographic evidence, and the testimony of some of our servicemen, that torture is occurring in our places of detention? We have lost our empathy for the people being harmed in our custody. We allow our reaction to the treatment of their symbols (the Qur’an) to obscure the more serious offenses.

I wish the worst thing we did was mistreat a holy book or two, and the worst thing they did was burn our flag, or a cross. Inexcusably, we more often resort to violence instead. What we have is Fundamentalism and Intolerance on both sides. What we need to consider is what Respect and Open Mindedness might gain us in this conflict. Our leaders and the terrorists do not deal in Respect, for it is not useful to them.

This so-called War plays out like a Farce at times, but is truly a Tragedy. The Irony is that our Public Mind can’t see the difference.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: