I'm about to complain about the "Arab Winter" that is going on in the world right now. Because I have a problem with both sides fighting this bullshit holy war.
If you want to know the basic reason I, as a Christian, don't get bent out of shape over other religions, it's because of basic philosophy. (Please note I am aware this is an oversimplification, but I need it to make a point.) There's a religious theory called the Diamond Theory. It states that all religions make up a single diamond. What you accept as your "truth" depends on what facets of the diamond you are looking at. In a Big Picture kind of way, all religions are basically the same thing. The Greeks had one supreme god and several lesser gods charged with individual tasks. That's roughly analogous to God and the angels. Every religion talks about good souls spending eternity in a paradise, and whether it's called Heaven or Nirvana or the Summerland, it's still Paradise. As a result, I don't generally see non-Christians as the "other", but people just like me, trying to live a good, moral life and honoring the mysterious forces guiding our fates. I simply don't see any reason to get upset or offended. After all, they may be closer to the truth than I am, just because they see a different facet than I do.
I've been pretty lucky in my life. I have a very diverse exposure to religions, and by and large, they've all been swell people. They can have senses of humor about their beliefs and about mine, and I'm free to goof on mine and theirs as well. My basic rule if you are going to take cheap shots at me or anything I hold precious is this -- If it's funny, you ain't in trouble. And there's some very funny people out there. I've met funny Jews (LOTS of them), funny Christians, funny Pagans, funny Muslims, funny Atheists, and even a funny Buddhist.
However, there are also a lot of super serious ones out there. I've run across super serious Jews and Christians and Pagans and Muslims and Atheists (I don't count Buddhists because my sample pool is skewed -- I've only ever known one). Both for the general groupings and their individual subsets (Orthodox, etc.).
Which brings me to the uproar in the Middle East that started with the attack on the American embassy in Libya. A lot of Americans are surprised to find out that we are not as universally loved as we would like to believe. For many countries, the American flag is not a symbol of liberty, justice, and equality, but a symbol of imperialism and exploitation and might makes right. I remember a quote from a Peace Corps worker looking at the remains of a village bombed in a military training maneuver who said, "It'll be a great day when our schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber." Combine this with the fact that every country has nationalism (the English love England, the French love France, and the other countries don't get what makes society great), and you have a lot of people wondering why the Muslim world is doing this.
Well, partly, the world (not just us, which I will get to anon) brings this on itself. Every religion has a lunatic fringe. These are people who feel their facet of the diamond is not only correct, but how can you possibly look at another one? Christians have them, as anyone who's dealt with a bunch of bluenoses trying to censor the world around us to save us from ourselves will tell you. There are lots of good Christians out there, ones who only care about doing the right thing, will help their neighbors, will love their gay kids, will stand up for equality, regardless of what the Official Position might be. It's just the Immoral Minority gets the press. The good Christians are boring. The radical fundamentalists sell papers and get ratings as people go, "Can you believe this? What is this, the Dark Ages?"
Same with Muslims. Your average, everyday Muslim is peaceful, lives and lets live, and isn't advocating the violent overthrow of the American government. But there is that radical group that gets its hackles up over seemingly everything. Those of you wondering why the Internet can be such an intolerant place, it's because a lot of people are bullies. They see a way to piss you off, and they will do it just because they can.
I mentioned earlier that I refused to participate in Draw Mohammed Day and refused to participate in any of the attempts to revive it because, while everyone is saying it's about Freedom Of Speech, it isn't. It's about pissing people off. There are plenty of ways to make the points and change the minds without going for the nuclear option. A similar situation is going on now thanks to the movie Innocence Of Muslims (I have the movie, but haven't watched it yet, so I'm reserving any comments on it for now). Was the movie intended to be a critical examination of Islam? Maybe. But the fact is it was made by Coptic Christians. The Coptic Church was one of the earliest organized Christian churches (not THE earliest, but pretty damn close). They've been in the Middle Eastern region for centuries, obviously. And there is a real culture war going back and forth between Copts and Muslims, especially in the state of Egypt.
Egypt today issued a ruling against the Copts who made the movie. It's largely symbolic, since the filmmakers are here in America and extradition treaties don't cover Epic Trolling. Also mention in the condemnation was that amazing asshole, Terry Jones. Jones, you may recall from my previous bitchfests about him, is a Christian pastor based in Florida that tried to organize a Quran book burning and put Islam "on trial." His YouTube account uploaded the original cut of the film that set off all the rioting. Nope, he hasn't changed a bit.
Now, yes, the Muslims who are rioting are horrible. But there's another problem here.
It's the people egging them on.
One newspaper (I don't recall if it's in Italy or France) announced it is going to run Mohammed cartoons. Yeah. THAT ought to calm things down.
Contrary to what smug Constitutional opportunist Bill Maher says, the problem isn't that people take religion too seriously. Taking things seriously is how you dig deeper and learn. The problem is closed-mindedness, the idea that your religion is ultimately right and anyone who disagrees is an idiot. After all, if they were smart, they'd think the same way you do. But that's isn't just about promoting your religion, like the Muslim rioters are. It's also about taking cheap shots. "We Christians can do these things to Muslims because they are ultimately wrong. After all, if they were smart, they'd think the same way we do." A lot of what is going on is being done from the perspective of self-perceived superiority, that my invisible friend is better than your invisible friend, so I don't have to treat you with humanity. You want to be treated the way we treat our own? Start acting like our own.
The people egging on the rioters are just as guilty of the deaths and destruction as those wielding the weapons, they just don't know it.
And they need to know it.
We all need to know it.
Before we destroy that precious, beautiful diamond.