Ah, the state of the world. I don’t know about you, but I ‘m frustrated, frightened, and concerned. Some of the forces afoot on the planet would turn back progress and enlightenment, turn back civilization and civility itself, return the people to ignorance and servitude. Is their goal a return to the Dark Ages?
Acts of cruel and unusual punishment are being waved as banners of honor. Terrorism is flaunted as a prideful group achievement. What’s next? The rack, the guillotine, burning at the stake? The Inquisition? Ethnic and religious differences fan into flames of intolerance. Didn’t WWII teach us any lessons?
The world community can’t turn its collective back on attacks on values held by societies who are able to live side by side in peace. Those who haven’t had or don’t understand freedom of speech, press, religion, or education for all or who continue to keep alive historical wrongs lean toward extremism … rather than permit an elected government or a freer society.
How can we preserve a way of life without embracing baser actions? How does change come about, leading not into the Dark Ages, but into Progress and Co-existence? Three concepts come to mind.
One is tolerance. A hijab or gold cross or yarmulke should be able to be worn with impunity. And if a person chooses not to embrace a religious belief, they should have that right. People need to feel valued, whatever their religion or ethnicity. Tolerance develops in peace … just because it’s hard for people to pursue higher values during times of war.
The second is separation of church and state. An elected government, which gives the people a voice, and a system of civil and criminal laws, which protect people’s rights, benefit the community as a whole. Religious and spiritual leaders nurture the soul, and influence moral and ethical behavior. This separation protects the beliefs of divergent religions and those of non-believers, and assures a more just system for all.
That being said, countries in the world with different types of government do coexist with democracies. The key here is they coexist in peace, with trade, treaties, tourism, and cultural exchange.
Third is the need for pluralism, not exclusivity. If you associate only with your own “kind,” your mind may become closed to anything new or different. Suspicion and distrust can show their colors quickly. Civil behavior and mutual respect among nations and individuals are needed to enable trust to grow.
We have a heritage and set of values fought for and earned several hundred years ago, namely representative government and the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, which we have to protect, which means we have to be real. To protect ourselves includes using diplomacy, negotiation, trade agreements, treaties, international intelligence exchange, cyberspace, adherence to law, creative problem solving, and, when necessary, overt or covert actions. And, in doing so, not lose our values or sell out to baser behavior. And, in doing so, honor those who protect us.
Extremism, radicalism, violence, and hyper-emotionalism don’t help build society up, but rather gnaw at the heels of a civilized world. I’m banking on man’s higher sense of purpose, on his ability to coexist with differences and celebrate likenesses. And this teaching and modeling starts with the young.
Thank you for stopping by and allowing me to share my thoughts, my unease, my heartache, my hope.
Let me hear from you.