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“When To Draw The Line?”

February 1, 2015 Leave a comment

The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is quite poignant right now. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo assassinations the world is engaged in a conversation of how to deal with terrorism some say originate from an extremist interpretation of Islam, and some say is a bastardization of a religion practiced in peace by 1.5 billion people; thugs making an excuse. Editors from Charlie Hebdo say they will continue to satirize the prophet Muhammad, and other religious prophets as they see fit; if the times call for it, they will do it. The rest of the journalistic world is not so sure about that course of action. Is that because of respect for a figure 1.5 billion people hold sacred, or the fear of the retaliation by a small number of people who have a warped mentality strong enough to carry out murder in the name of defending Islam? There are debates taking place about when to draw the line; when to push the envelope further; how to “take back” a religious faith; the meaning of humanity.

In squaring this circle and coming to grips with the reality that people do heinous things in the name of something else, personally I feel awarding these terrorists the mantle of Islam, and religion in general, is ill-advised. ISIS/ISIL are like Boca Haram who are like the Klu Klux Klan, thugs who hate and want power. These people want neither religion or faith or peace or to govern. They want to rule and destroy. They are gangs of thugs and need to be treated as such, which means denying them agency; denying them identity; denying them power. Does Islam play a role in the conversation? Maybe, but to condemn Islam would be to attach the peaceful majority who practice it to a corrupt few who claim the same. I do not believe the Klu Klux Klan represent the broader Christian view. The people who drape white cloths over their bodies in order to terrorize people “different” than them by lynching innocent people and burning the very symbol of their supposed faith do not represent the Christian faith I was raised with. I believe the same goes for Islam.

These may be difficult times, and as such difficult conversations need to be had, but I think we can separate the thugs from the faithful; the murderers from the healers; the minority from the majority. The Charlie Hebdo satirists, I think, have shown us where and when to draw to the line. Now maybe journalists of their ilk can give the 1.5 billion Muslims that practice Islam some space to have their difficult conversations. One that will lead to resounding actions to separate the violent extremists who use terrorism to preach their words from the peaceful observers who pray for prosperity and respect toward their fellow persons who share the same Earth as one.

Categories: Islam, Religion, War

Obama In Turkey – An Exercise in Cross-Cultural Awareness

April 15, 2009 4 comments

Over the past week, President Barack Obama was up to quite a lot. He had a few things on his plate – the G20 Summit, a speech directed at nuclear non-proliferation, a meeting in Turkey with political, religious, and future leaders, approving his kid’s new dog, etc. You can read more about Obama’s busy schedule in the article I wrote entitled, “A Busy Busy Obama.”

Through all the excitement something struck me that goes to the heart of why Obama will be a GREAT president. During his town hall with Turkish university students he mentioned that he wanted to finish the town hall before the Call to Prayer. Check it out at 3 minutes and 20 seconds (3:20) into this video.



Why does this grip me so? Well, a few years ago I did a seminar/presentation on cross-cultural understanding in the business world. The whole presentation centered around a simulated business meeting, where one group had to do business with another. One group however was deeply religious and had something similar to the Call to Prayer they had to do.

During this simulation everything went well, and business was looking good except for when the religious group realized the people they were dealing with were insensitive to their religious beliefs. And to be fair, the other group wasn’t really privy to such general but detailed information. (I withheld such information, and only told the non-religious group that the people they would be dealing with are very socially conservative and deeply religious.)

Both groups asked me how I would have dealt with such a situation. I told them I would have done my research concerning the others’ religious faith and customs. The moment I read, “deeply religious,” in my briefing report I would have asked follow up questions. I told the group I would have vocalized and stated that I was aware of their “call to prayer.” This little step would have made all the difference during the initial negotiations.

Acknowledging these cultural characteristics, even in a lip-service way shows, at least, that you are aware to some degree of the difference in the room. From that point on people know that you know about them, and can feel that you are taking everything into account.

By acknowledging the Call to Prayer Obama showed that he was culturally sensitive to the people he was engaging. If Obama shows this level of thought and sensitivity to another people, something tells me his policies are not fly-by-night suggestions.

Peace

Ad Agency McCain Campaign 2008

I support Barack Obama, but I can admit when he and his campaign have stepped over the line. This week he brought race into the campaign. I have little problem with that as long as he keeps it on general terms and does his homework before making accusations. The McCain campaign has said nothing about race, and Obama gave them the red carpet treatment in talking about how Bush and McCain will try to scare U.S. American voters away from voting for him because his name sounds “funny” and he is black. While I agree that the overall Republican machine will do this, Bush and McCain have said nothing the like. Barack better watch himself.

That said, the ads by the McCain campaign are way overboard and absolutely ridiculous. You can see them at the John McCain for President website. The McCain campaign needs some serious help if that is what they are going to produce. How could anyone even put Barack Obama, former Chief Editor of the Harvard Law Review, in the same sentence as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton (the celebs have even said they wanted nothing to do with this election)? How about “The One” ad where Obama is supposed to be Moses…and that factually inaccurate ad about Obama not visiting troops while in Europe because he couldn’t take in news cameras…I can’t underscore enough the pathetic ridiculousness of these ads. I’m embarrassed to say I volunteered for McCain back in 2000. At least at that time he really stood for something.

Obama has his faults, but McCain is pathetic, and if the voters of the United States of America want crap executive leadership for another 4 years to (God forbid) 8 years then they should vote for McCain. If they are smart they will take that “risk” and vote for Obama. America was built on a risk. I’ll vote for Obama. I’ll take that risk.

A few parting notes – 1) OBAMA IS NOT MUSLIM, AND DOES NOT PRACTICE ISLAM!!!! For the 26% of Americans who actually believe that – WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!!!! Because his father practiced that religion doesn’t mean Barack has followed suit. Yes he has Muslim heritage, but most Americans are of mixed heritage. That is what America is all about – a mixture of cultures that creates a unique environment primed for prosperity. Obama encompasses all of that, and more. 2) Obama is not running for class president of his junior high class. He is running for the opportunity to be President of the United States – arguably the most powerful executive position in the World. If people know his name, and what he stands for then all the better I say. 3) When did we become a nation of lost hope? And those who speak of hope and change seem to be crucified. When did we become a nation of lost souls? – Oh that’s right, 8 years ago when George W. Bush took office.

Peace

Motivational I – The Baha’i’s

Motivation is a big thing in life. Without it we do nothing. While I was reading, The Baha’i Faith: The Emerging Global Religion by William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, I thought more and more about religion and how it can motivate people, for good and bad. I found many sections of the book very interesting, and worth taking note of. I am sharing these quotations with you in the first part of an indefinite series on motivation. Visit my Motivational page for my revelation on Baha’i. And keep visiting as I will be updating this series on motivation weekly.

Peace

Categories: Religion Tags: , ,

This Week’s Rant

March 27, 2008 4 comments

The new rant is up for viewing

Back to some really boiling hot polemics. The whole Reverend Wright sound bite and how Barack had to deal with that just made me think…Is Wright really anti-American? Maybe he is really PRO-American but we aren’t smart enough to realize it because the conversations we’ve been having for the past 8 years have been on the intellectual of dirt, and that is speaking kindly. Bush has numbed our minds into a stasis mode. Wright and Obama are trying to get us moving. I hope it works…For the sake of the United States of America.

Peace

More Motivation – A new quote to ponder

Check the latest and entry at Motivational. This is entitled, “The Challenges of Success” by Abdu’l-Baha.

Peace

Categories: Religion Tags: ,

“Divine Intervention or Chinese Law?”

September 11, 2007 Leave a comment

So, there you are, a kid ready to be deemed the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the supreme spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhist Monks, and in walks a Chinese public office worker saying, “Sorry but this reincarnation is illegal as this person has not been approved by the Chinese Central Government. Please fill out these forms and do the proper due diligence before performing a reincarnation, in the future. Thank you.”

Okay, what up with that? Last time I checked on Tibetan Buddhist culture the whole reincarnation is supposed to be left up to the religious elders within Tibet. It is not subject to Beijing approval. If this is religious freedom within China then I have a bridge that can cross the Pacific Ocean to sell you. Regardless of the millions of people China “allow” to visit Lhasa as a pilgrimage religious freedom doesn’t exist in China, unless you 100% obey the Central Authority.

I’ve walked with Tibetan Monks, while visiting the home in exile of the 14th Dalai Lama – Dharamsala, but I just missed the 14th Dalai Lama (he was in Japan at the time). What is the Central Chinese government getting up in a tizzy about? I think if they just relaxed on the religious crackdowns and maybe fostered some kind of true freedom, transparency, and brotherhood between people they would go a long way in maintaining this One China Policy they so proudly preach. The people I met were very political and very boisterous, and really nice. The Monks spent the day in “arguments/debates” where they challenged their own religion as well as other topics. It was enlightening that people could challenge each other without violence. Religion challenging itself with the outcome being greater enlightenment – things that most religions speak about but rarely live up to.

China has bigger problems to deal with than revolting Monks in Tibet (or independent minded Taiwanese). The big bad Chinese government needs to get a handle on the environmental destruction taking place in the country, the loosely regulated manufacturing industry, and the ridiculous amount of secrecy/lack of transparency within the government. Oh, not to mention the 2008 Summer Olympics are coming to town (which I disagree with).

I don’t want to be anti-Chinese because I believe the Chinese people are like anyone else in this World – they want success and a comfortable life. I’m criticizing the management of China, and the way the Chinese Central Government oversteps its boundaries and sticks its hands into realms of life they should stay out of. If you want to check an article about this issue see – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6944750.stm

Peace ya’ll