Sunday, October 10, 2004
Marvin, Muslims and the Mirror
On Friday, Marvin at LittleRedBlog, wrote a short piece entitled, I am thirsty. I was going to write about it yesterday, but in truth, I hadn't quite digested the implications of his piece.
Now, I like Marvin's blog because in the fast paced blogsphere, he slows down just enough to reflect. I did just that and reread his post a few times.
In his post, Marvin posits a few questions, assuming the role of a Muslim. He starts by setting the stage.
Islam is the vessel that carries the water that all Muslims should drink. The water being the moral truths to guide a man or woman through life and to God's will. Whereas today, the vessel is dry and carries the dust of the forgotten truths, and the sand of bigotry and hatred
Marvin then attempts to understand and more importantly, confronts the issue.
"...In a community that neither respects nor seeks to understand the moral basis of their faith, instead choosing to focus on the fiqh (jurisprudence)and the tawhid (oneness of God) as known and understood in years gone by, it will not be easy. The first step to refilling the vessel is the hardest. It is the recognition that the vessel is dry..."
With a bit of no nonsense clarity, Marvin finds the crux of the issue. It is about avoidance. The mirror reflects the tragic image of failure. There isn't enough makeup to fix the problem.
His piece isn't long, but it does bear a slow read- and even reread.
Over the last day or so, I've asked myself why that is-- and how it came to pass that whatever it is we stand for, the Muslim world has an instant and reflexive knee jerk, opposite reaction.
Of course, there is no one single reason but I do believe I understand.
When the Third World and Muslims especially, see us stumble, it is a validation for themselves and an excuse to say, "Well, things here really aren't so bad."
When America or her ideals succeed, they perceive themselves as failing. They are forced to see if but for a moment, the utter failures their societies, cultures and beliefs have adopted.
Therefore, it is an imperative to them that America and her ideals be reviled and rejected. To do otherwise is to force that long hard look in the mirror.
They see way of life as a zero sum game- an all or nothing proposition.
The Third World and Muslims in particular, clearly do not see reality. They actively embrace a mythology of conspiracy theories and fantastic plots foisted upon them by an America obsessed with keeping them down.
America and Americans seek the mirror of reality. We adjust, fix, change and admit to our flaws. That is our obsession.
When the Third World and Muslims reflect, they yearn for earlier days and want to go back to better times, as if somehow, that would fix all the problems of their current realities.
America looks ahead- 'Our best days are yet to come,' as every American knows and believes. Yes, we cherish our past. However, we are not obsessed with it.
Understanding reality, is dealing with today and preparing for tomorrow. If that means looking in the mirror and recognizing our flaws, we will do it with vigor and enthusiasm.
Religious dogma teaches us that true repentance is more than words. It is more than an acknowledgement of our past transgressions. Repentance is the acceptance of our obligation to modify our future behavior.
It is not about going back in time, but rather, going forward. It is not about living in the past, but rather about preparing for living in the future, in a way that elevates us and those around us.
This is the lesson that America understands.
It is a lesson many others need to learn as well, as Marvin's post points out.