Saturday, 25 February 2012

The Dignity Of All People

I am not quite sure what to make of this current situation in Afghanistan regarding the burning of the Quran. It seems such a confusing mess and both sides actions seem so irrational and completely senseless.

In short, I understand the situation to be something along these lines: US soldiers burned a Quran, or a number of Quran’s, along with the garbage; Afghans tried to rescue the books but some had already been burned; as a direct result 2 US soldiers were killed and many more people have subsequently been killed in the on going aftermath; Obama has apologised but it seems to be having no effect; some US politicians are furious that Obama apologised for the burning of the Quran/s and are even demanding a tougher stance because of the US soldiers killed; Afghans seem to have no intention of allowing closure on this matter.

I must admit that I am personally having a hard time being reasonable as far as the Obama administration is concerned. Obama has already shown, through the HHS Mandate, that he doesn’t care too much for the religious freedom of people and seems to be quite comfortable with forcing people to violate their conscience. So, why should I now believe that he actually cares about anyone burning a book, even if it is a holy book? Sorry, I am just not able to put the two together.

Added to this is the fact that, I am sure I could ask a 14-year old child what would happen if someone was to burn the Quran, and I think he would be able to explain, quite lucidly, what a really dumb idea that would be. So, despite what the US soldiers and Obama may be saying, I am inclined to believe that this was not just a random ‘stupid and insensitive’ action, but was probably specifically intended to be a bit provocative.

However, at the same time, reacting by killing people is of course absurd. It is just plain madness to think that anyone would feel that such extreme action is ever required, except in self-defence. I can only imagine the sadness of the families who have lost their children, on all sides, because of this senseless incident.

While I am not sure what to make of all this, I do see a lesson in it. The lesson for me is this:

We must never underestimate how important it is to treat everyone with dignity. Respect what each person believes and practices, as if you yourself believed and practiced the same. If you are required to challenge or correct a person’s belief, do so, but only if your intention, for doing so, is genuinely focussed on what is good for that person, and only when that person is receptive. You have no right to force your good intentions on another person. Also, never forget, always speak your mind gently, firmly if you must, but without ever insulting the dignity of that person.

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