Life itself is wondrous and majestic, filled with infinite variety and infinite diversity. It is to be embraced in all its forms.
This means exactly what it says. Life is wonderous. Life is majestic. Life is filled with endless variety and infinite diversity.
There are those who believe that all life is sacred. I don’t know if I would go that far. I think that if our lives were really, truly sacred then we wouldn’t be so easy to kill. However, I do believe that all life deserves at least a threshold amount of respect.
In practice this means many things.
It means that, yes, Black lives do matter.
It also means that Muslim lives matter.
It means that indigenous lives matter.
It means that Asian lives matter.
It means that the lives of women matter.
It means that the lives of children matter, and that the lives of babies matter.
It means that the lives of the unborn, life in-potentia, matter.
It means that the lives of homosexual people matter, and that the lives of transgendered people matter.
You see where this is going, yes?
We humans are a judgmental lot. We believe, because we’ve been taught to believe, that some lives matter more than others. That some people matter more than others. We believe, because we’ve been taught to believe, that some groups of people are scum, while others are praiseworthy.
As with all such judgments there is an element of truth present.
As responsible citizens we should be praising those who live and work within the structures that our society has organized and built, and we should absolutely desire that those who live and work outside the boundaries of civilized society should recieve the justice that they so richly deserve.
But just because someone is a criminal and out outlaw does that mean that their life is worth less than someone who lives their whole life within the law?
There are those who would say yes, that is exactly the case. I am not one of them.
Understand, this does not mean that we should refrain from exacting our measure of justice from those who would flout our laws, from those who kill and rape without a second thought, from those who take advantage of vulnerable people and seize that which is not theirs. Absolutely those individuals should be on the receiving end of our good justice, and that justice should be tailored to suit the crime that has been committed. But what about after they’ve served their time? What happens then? Having served their time and paid their pennance do these people not have the right to rebuild their lives and to be once again treated as human beings? If not, then at what point are we able to regard these people as having served their time?
One of the greatest of all human attributes is the capacity for forgiveness. Sometimes that is easier than others, but it is a truism that forgiveness cleanses the soul. Carrying grudges and holding on to anger long past its useful life does nothing more than to corrupt and pollute our souls. While this can be useful in the short term as a motivating factor, the long term effects associated with this strategy make the whole thing highly questionable. And, really, in the 21st century we should be better than all that, yes?
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The Black Lives Matter movement is prevalent throughout much of the United States, but it has also worked its way into Canada. Recently I’ve even heard tell of a Black Lives Matter presence in England. I do not support the Black Lives Matter movement, not because I think that black lives are worth less or because I do not believe that sometimes when people scream racism its because there is actual racism present. That is not the case at all.
I do not support Black Lives Matter because I have heard rhetoric from a number of people who claim to be part of the movement calling for open warfare on Law Enforcement in their communities. Black Lives Matter typically insists that these people don’t actually represent their intent, and I am going to be generous and choose to believe that they are telling the truth. In the end it doesn’t matter.
In the end there will be those who believe that by simply saying they’re a member of Black Lives Matter the individuals in question are simply parroting the expressed policy put forth by the movement itself. No amount of reason will sate such individuals. All the evidence they need is right in front of them. Thus relations that are already strained will be strained even further, and there’s no reaason for any of it.
By the same token, my views regarding Muslims are vastly different than the views of a great many who claim that they are conservatives.
The prevailing opinion on the right hand side of the scale seems to be that all Muslims are a threat, that no Muslims should be allowed in our country under any circumstances, ever, and that anything even remotely Muslim must be regarded as inherently evil and treated as such.
As much as I understand where these people are coming from, I find their point of view distasteful at best.
It is self-evident to me that there are generally two types of Muslim immigrants or refugees: those that want to kill us, and those that don’t.
Whether the ones that want to kill us can honestly be regarded as true Muslims or not is an argument that I will leave to better people than me. I do not have a definitive answer and I am not all that certain that I care. I’ve never had much use for religious labels of any sort. I find them to be little more than an excuse to foment division, as most such labels, religious or not, are. It doesn’t matter anyway. The point is that we know they’re out there, and we know that they want to kill us, so there is ample justification for keeping those that want to kill us, or those who have close ties to those that want to kill us, out of the country. It seems self-evident that our immigration and refugee policies can be safely crafted along these lines, and, indeed, they should be.
As for the ones that don’t want to kill us, again, I will leave the argument as to whether or not these people can be regarded as proper Muslims to better people than me. What I do is that these individuals are no different than a great many people who already call Canada their home. All they want to do is to live and work and be free to go about their merry as they see fit. I see no reason why they should not be allowed to.
But, some will say, all Muslims are a ticking time bomb. The Qu’Ran makes them so with its call to Jihad and its incitement to kill any and all non-believers unless they convert or agree to pay tribute.
I have several responses to that idea.
First of all, lets talk about Christians. It is a truism that some Christians are more devout than others. There are those who would tell you that this is a lie, that any individual who claims that he is a Christian but is not devout is no Christian at all. I call that splitting hairs.
The same is true of Catholics. Some Catholics are more devout than others.
My question then becomes, if it is possible amongst the community of Christians and Catholics for some individuals to be more devout than others, then is it also not possible for some Muslims to be more devout than others? Certainly it is not outside the realm of possibility.
Secondly, it is absolutely true that there are passages within the Qu’Ran which call for some pretty hefty punishments for various crimes. Amputations, beheadings, stonings, tossing someone from a high roof. The list goes on. In this regard the Christian bible is no different.
Now, for the sake of full disclosure I must confess that I am neither an expert on the bible nor am I an expert on the Qu’Ran. My bible study classes were a lot of years ago, as was my Catholic school upbringing, and I’ve not held on to many of those memories because they have little, if any, relevance to the person that I have since become.
Here endeth the disclaimer.
There are passages in the bible which describe devout individuals preparing to sacrifice their first born children because they believed that’s what God wanted them to do. There are passages which mete out some pretty hefty punishments for specific crimes. And yet, these things do not happen in the Christian world. Why would this be the case?
Because there are individuals within the Christian and Catholic communities who came to understand that there are ways in which you can hold on to your devout belief without resorting to shedding blood. These individuals watched the gradual progression of our societies and determined, quite rightly, that such practices would not be welcome. So, they fell by the wayside. And now, with a few notable exceptions, the Christian and Catholic communities of the Western World are generally quite peaceful. As for the exceptions, well, I find them to be more bewildering and annoying than anything else.
My question then becomes, is it such a stretch to believe that if there have been elements in the Christian and Catholic communities who came to understand that you cannot apply two thousand year old morality in its entirety in a twentieth and twenty-first century world, then there can also be elements of the Muslim community who came to the same conclusion? The Christians and Catholics got there first, is all.
On a daily basis we call upon ourselves to judge individuals for their actions, and not the communities that they belong to.
We judge the members of the Westborough Baptist Church for their protests of fallen soldiers funerals, not the entirety of the Christian community.
We judge those protestors who incite and participate in violence for their actions, not the entire protest movement.
We judge rapists and child molesters themselves for their actions, not the entire gender to which they belong.
If we are able to make such distinctions for these occurrances, then why is it such a stretch for us to make the same distinctions when it comes to Muslims?