With violence erupting anew and the controversy over bans on Muslim immigrants and terrorism, I feel it’s important to comment on the state of things and a fundamental misunderstanding of terrorism on the part of our elected officials. To whit:
Terrorism isn’t a person. It isn’t even a people. It’s an ideal.
This is where things get sticky. Our government officials have stated that we will “defeat terrorism” and that we’re already doing a pretty decent job of it. But what’s the measure being used? How can you tell how many people – ordinary, disenchanted, naturalized citizens of the country – are being influenced by this ideal and how they’re responding to our attacks on a vague notion of the “perversion of the religion of Islam?” The answer is, you cannot. To prove that, look at the recent attack in Orlando where, at what seemed to be the last minute in a seemingly uninformed statement by the killer, a natural-born United States citizen pledged allegiance to ISIS and murdered 49 people. He’s not alone.
If I could summarize this post in one sentence it would be this:
Your personal beliefs are not what’s good for the country.
Let me clarify. A belief system is personal, subjective, and evolving. The things you believe aren’t necessarily the things your neighbor believes. Often, the things you believe aren’t the same as the person sitting next to you in your church, mosque, temple, or support group. You may feel strongly about a topic or issue but it would be incredibly arrogant for you to assume that everyone else does – or should. When you hold a personal belief it’s virtuous for you to live your life according to that belief but it’s evil for you to try to force others to do the same, regardless of your intentions.
a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true
a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable
a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone
Notice the word “feeling” used in all of these definitions? Feelings are personal and cannot be objectively shared across an entire population. Your feelings are fine when they stay inside of your personal bubble but you should not attempt to extend that bubble to other people – especially when they don’t want to be inside your bubble, no matter how safe and warm you think it is.
Your beliefs are formed by your personal experiences in life (or opinions you’ve adopted from other people with or without justification), which shape your feelings about the things you encounter. It’s easy to see that other people have lived different lives with different backgrounds, different family dynamics, and different experiences than you. Knowing that, why is it so hard to see that your beliefs don’t apply to them? It doesn’t matter that you feel your beliefs are correct and it doesn’t matter whether you think your beliefs make sense. There will always be someone out there who disagrees because they’ve formed their own (often incompatible) beliefs on their own life experiences and most likely feel that theirs are correct and make sense.
The things you believe now aren’t the same as the things you believed when you were five years old or 15 years old because you’ve matured and learned more about how the world works since then. 15 years from now it’s entirely possible that your belief system will have changed – sometimes in drastic ways.
Your vote doesn’t just affect you. Think about that when you think about voting. If your primary concern is which candidate shares more of your personal beliefs than the other, you’re using the wrong criteria for your decision. You should be worried about which of the candidate’s beliefs are going to make it into his or her policy and how that policy will affect the citizens (not just the religious ones) of this country and people around the world.
I haven’t weighed in on the Cranston prayer banner ordeal yet, but I’d like to take a moment to recognize this young lady as a true patriot and an American hero. Jessica Ahlquist took a stand, not for her beliefs, but for the beliefs of every person in this country against an overwhelming tide of ignorance and hatred. She saw a divisive, sectarian prayer hung in a public school and asked that it be removed so that students and educators of all faiths (or none) could feel equally represented and respected. Jessica knew that this country was not founded on Christian principles but a desire to get away from an oppressive religious regime and allow everyone the freedom to choose what and how they’ll worship. Jessica knows this. Christians do not.
The Wayward Willis will be participating in the biggest online strike in history. The SOPA & PIPA strike includes sites like Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, and many others. We cannot let Congress take away our freedom of speech and our right to privacy! Join The Wayward Willis and many other sites in an all-Internet blackout tomorrow, Jan. 18.