While I mourn with France today, I have been reminded that I selectively express my mourning for grievous events in Western civilization. I tend to be more emotionally affected by tragedies in Western cultures.
This does nothing to lessen the tragedy of Paris. However, it does help me put into perspective the magnitude. 122 people is a lot of people. But it is small compared to tragedies we see unfold before us in so many non-Western countries. In the last week, how many thousands have been slaughtered by those devoted to religious or other ideologies? In the last week, how many millions (billions?) of women and children have endured a living hell of suppression created by devotion to religious and other ideologies?
My wife and I watched the movie Timbuktu two nights ago. It tells the story of Timbuktu and the surrounding area under the power of religious extremists. That film and my wife’s statement to me last night are powerful reminders to me that while I need to continue to fight oppression and bigotry at home, I need to listen more closely to the stories that come from far away, both geographically and culturally.
The prematurely ended lives, stunted lives, and damaged souls as a result of ideological devotion are everywhere.
I have been thinking locally (speaking culturally) and acting locally. I need to remember to think globally and act globally where I can while I continue to act locally.
I know both major and minor holocausts of ideology are currently occurring in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, North Korea, Russia, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and I’m sure a few countries whose mention in the news have not perked my ears. And how much of that has ideologically-driven U.S. foreign policy contributed to?
I also know that people are living their own “personal holocausts” of ideology all across the globe, including the U.S. because people are so devoted to ideology.
In the U.S., the continued effects of racism are so much more apparent now that so many have given themselves permission to eschew compassion in the name of ideology. Pay gaps are large, opportunity is clearly unequal, illegal immigrants are being demonized, voting rights are being restricted, and racist statements are being made by serious candidates for President, for crying out loud.
In the U.S., oppression of women appears to be getting worse. The gender pay gap is horrendous, access to reproductive healthcare is being restricted, and representation in leadership positions is atrocious. And that same permission to to eschew kindness in the name of ideology has both a good portion of the populace and serious presidential candidates making sexist statements and getting away with it.
In the U.S., oppression of LGBTQ people is considered OK by so many people on ideological grounds. The permission people have given themselves to be brutal in this arena is just astounding.
And though it makes none of the U.S. problems any less damaging, it is so much worse elsewhere in the world. Can we evolve as a species to accept that oppression and violence in the name of ideology is wrong? Maybe it will take rejection of ideology altogether.
I’m trying to do my part. I reject ideology. I don’t care how much my personal positions agree with a religion, political platform, personal following, or group, I refuse to label myself as a member. I am a non-member of any ideological group. I reserve the right to judge whether my positions need adjustment with new information without regard to what any group says I should believe. I claim and I own that responsibility.
Will you join me?