Yesterday I talked about that “Draw Muhammad” contest and a message these little pictures send to Islamic community. I think there’s a lot more to say about this, starting from infamous Danish cartoons and all the way up to Charlie Hebdo. The puzzlement among westerners and especially atheists is genuine, they really have to idea why would anybody react to some drawings so violently. And they don’t understand it when people try to explain, it just doesn’t register.
I think I’d better do it some other day, though. Today let’s talk about reactions to this unfortunate contest.
It happened in Texas, which offers a rich background to anything that would happen next. I mean it’s probably one of the most religious places in the entire West, not just America, and yet they went along with it like the worst of the atheists. Just because their Christian fundamentalism makes Muslims their sworn enemies.
Religion is good only for hatred with that lot. Normally, when we hear about a debate between Christians and atheists we sympathize with those who believe in God in whatever shape or form. We might disagree with Christians and Muslims, sometimes very strongly, but in the face of the common enemy we, I mean devotees, tend to offer support. Worship of the Lord, however imperfect in our eyes, is still better than atheism. Not for fundamentalists, though. As long as atheists were attacking Muslims they felt fine about it.
Insulting God or His prophets is an offense that should be felt by all believers regardless of their religion, and if we ignore it we invite severe reactions on ourselves, most probably losing the taste for our own service.
Hmm, perhaps there’s really not much difference between those two groups in America. They all come from the same stock anyway, both born out of the evolution of Christianity, both share the same history even if they look at it differently.
Btw, I saw an interesting argument about secularism recently. Atheists consider US constitution and its separation of religion and state as direct evidence that religion should only be a private matter for retarded individuals. The state, the real life with economy, education, taxes, laws etc should never ever be touched by those religious nuts. The counterargument goes is that separation of state and church wasn’t written in the constitution to protect government from religion, it was the other way around – to protect church from the government.
It makes sense if we consider that practically the entire population of the US at that time were people running away from state persecution for their beliefs in the Old World. The founding fathers didn’t want to see repeat of that in their new country. The state, however, has grown very big since then and laid claims to areas of public life that were traditionally in the domain of the church, things like education and weddings, for example. While the separation still exists on paper in practice the state has infringed on churches rights to promote their religion in any way they see fit. Children born to Christians belong to the state now. When they go to school it’s the state, not the church who gets to decide how they are going to be educated.
Hmm, it really does make sense. Just a different angle on what secularism means and we have an effect opposite to the intended. Why didn’t they foresee it? Because atheism wasn’t a thing then, no one could have predicted how atheists would take secularism and where they would run with it. And because atheists have a completely different mindset they took in a completely different direction.
Anyway, shame on Texas Christians who didn’t protest against the contest seen by everyone as provocative and offending towards their fellow believers.
“Official” Muslim community acted very mature in this regard. First thing that must be noted is that the whole affair was completely unrelated to them. The organizers weren’t local, the guest speakers weren’t local, most of the contest participants weren’t local, and the shooters weren’t local, too, they came from as far away as Phoenix. And ISIS, which took credit for the shootings, weren’t from Garland either.
Some reports say that there are as many as 200,000 Muslims in Texas. That’s a huge number, maybe not percentage wise but it’s twice the population of Garland itself, and none of them had anything to do with what outsiders brought on their community. When we speak about Muslim reaction we should first look at them, not at the shooters, not at ISIS, not at stereotypes of Islamic extremists or terrorists.
All those things exist but on a global level, in the virtual world where two people can hog all the news and two hundred thousand be ignored.
Yes, the event was provocative and inflaming but actual factual Muslims on the ground took it in stride and didn’t give in to the provocation. Two radicalized ones from a thousand miles away spoiled it all for everybody else, though, giving black eye to the entire Muslim community.
Typical reaction to the shootings – those Muslims are killing people over cartoons again. But they aren’t. Muslims, as a population, keep their anger in check and deal with it in a mature way, issuing public statements and protecting each other’s faith. They are not being radicalized by this experience but I’m sure the trust they have in the non-Muslim society that brought this trouble into their community and blamed it on them, is diminishing.
From their pov it’s a good thing. I’m sure they all struggle between two different identities, between their loyalties to God and their loyalties to the material world. I’m sure all of them realize that they can’t stand with their feet planted in two different worlds and sooner or later they must make a choice. Cases like this might make this choice so much easier.
They won’t go out with a bang, they won’t blow up buildings and shoot people, they probably won’t even protest. Just like devotees they would probably realize that their future lies not in improving this world but in preparing themselves for the next. Jihad for them is a spiritual struggle, not an external one, and they do it as a community, by staying disciplined and organized.
As devotees we should probably learn from their behavior, too. When trouble comes to our door it’s best to put our faith in the Lord and concentrate on our own spiritual progress, not give in to our base instincts and behave just like atheists want us to do so that they can make fools of us in public.
I’m pretty sure that if something like this happens to devotees there will be some wannabe kṣatriyas who would take it in their heads that it’s their job to protect devotees from insults and they will end up like those two dead shooters, condemned by everybody and their behavior rejected by their community as well.
Let Kṛṣṇa protect us when necessary, why can’t we have trust in Him? Devotees in Navadvīpa didn’t lash out at non-believers making fun of them. They were unhappy, they lamented the situation, but even Advaita Ācārya who could theoretically destroy the entire universe only prayed for the advent of the Lord Caitanya, who didn’t dish revenge either.
Kṛṣṇa said to us all – you surrender, I’ll protect you. That’s the deal and we better honor it. If protection isn’t coming it’s probably not the time, and not an excuse for us to do Kṛṣṇa’s job.