Deepak Chopra writes in Baltimore Sun on the need to "Listen to the Muslim World" for the Americans. It is a very thought provoking article. He gives some very defining and statistically interesting information (collected through Gallup Polls):
One-sided perspectives always are flawed, as this case proves. In the past year, the Gallup Poll has made a major effort to survey public opinion in 10 Muslim countries (Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia). It’s no surprise to find out that there is a highly unfavorable view of the United States. But what about these findings?
• A majority of Muslims in all 10 countries had a favorable opinion of the European Union and thought the EU could serve as an agent of peace. This contradicts the mantra that Muslims hate the West and that a clash of civilizations is inevitable.
• A majority of Muslims supports freedoms of speech, assembly and religion.
• The same majority believes that women should have a right to vote, drive and work outside the home.
I doubt that even the Bush administration’s highest-level advisers on the war know these facts. Isn’t it time they did?
The Iraq war was founded on misinformation and lack of communication. We would be headed "the way forward" by correcting that as soon as possible.
For example, a basic question with regard to the war on terror is how many Muslims are religious extremists. The answer: far fewer than anyone tends to believe. According to the Gallup Poll, only 8 percent of Muslims hold extremist views (for example, they think the 9/11 attacks were justified). Fifty-five percent are "skeptical moderates" (they don’t like the United States but don’t believe that 9/11 was justified). Fully 35 percent are pro-American (they like the United States and also feel that 9/11 was unjustified).
These facts make me breathe a little easier. I see a ray of light, and we certainly need one. Democrats and Republicans alike use the global war on terror as a measure of their strength and patriotism, vying to prove who is tougher, angrier, stronger-willed in protecting Americans.
Its a good article but its not only the Americans who have to "understand" the Muslims.. but those 90% (55 Skeptic moderates and 35% Supporters of US) who have to start a debate within the community on how to isolate and speak up to the extremists!
The violent movements that are born out of religious grievances do die… as was the case in Khalistan Movement. Agreed that a lot of it was do with the kind of treatment KPS Gill meted to the Sikhs in Punjab….. but a lot had also to do with the soul searching that underwent within the Sikh community. And their realization that they – the common men – will also have to speak up!
That is why the Muslim world also needs to do a better job at articulating how they will – in reality not just rhetoric – ensure safety and lives of people of other religions within their societies.
Quite frankly, If I dont let you pray to your God in my House and stop you from eating and walking just because "my God said so"…
.. but want you to treat me with all the respect and freedom when I come to yours.. chances that it will happen are pretty dim!!
So, a lot of things have to change.. but a start has to be made.
Individual to Group Dynamics
Also, on another front, Its strange but true that at a person-to-person level we all are fine. Its the Group-to-Group level that the trouble starts occuring.
For example, many Americans when they work with the Muslims or Arab in the offices – I have seen that myself – are friendly and often strong friends. No complaints whatsoever or any negative thoughts! In fact they will fight for that guy if he was in trouble at an airport. But just ask them when they are alone as to what they think of Muslims or Arabs and the answer is radically different!!
Now, the question I have often pondered is – How does the aggregation of One-to-one relation into a composite Group-to-group relationship change SO RADICALLY?? Indeed WHY?
Why cant the Adnan – who is a Pakistani friend of mine represent the Pakistanis and Muslims for me.. when I talk not as a "Desh" but as an "Indian Hindu"???
How can a vegetarian Gujarati stab a pregnant women whom he doesnt know .. just because she is Muslim?
So the two major questions are:
1. Why does the individual dynamics NOT translate into Group dynamics??
2. And how does a perfectly "normal" and "peace-loving" person resort to violence based on the "demands" of the utterly negative Group Dynamics??
One of the answer for the first questions is perceptions distortion. That somehow the "leaders" create a "global message" that is negative in a blanket sense. So you do not see an individual. Adnan somehow fades away.. and a nameless/faceless identity called Pakistani Muslim takes shape and somehow seems closer to reality!
And since it is this new "face" that I am seeing .. its easier to rationalize killing (even barbarically) several more Adnans!! Because now they have receded into oblivion as far as my sight is concerned!!
So, the fight is over the perceptions that are created at a MACRO level!!
Unfortunately, or surprising (even in case of Alliance for Humanity) .. the answers we look for are driven at the MICRO level.
Will ‘twain ever meet? I dont know?!
But somehow, someone, somewhere has to look at the NOISE of all the OVERHEAD messages flying around…. Something that Dr. Chopra’s Article does a good job of… and something that is required from ALL sides. If that means questioning our inherent Religious beliefs and dictats.. then so be it!!
Nothing short of that will bring peace in our kids lives! That I know for certain!
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