Thursday, March 26, 2009

US versus THEM

Once there lived in the ancient city of Afkar two learned men who hated and belittled each other’s learning. For one of them denied the existence of the gods and the other was a believer.

One day the two met in the marketplace, and amidst their followers they began to dispute and to argue about the existence or the non-existence of the gods. And after hours of contention they parted.

That evening the unbeliever went to the temple and prostrated himself before the altar and prayed the gods to forgive his wayward past.

And the same hour the other learned man, he who had upheld the gods, burned his sacred books. For he had become an unbeliever.

--Kahlil Gibran

All too often we have much more in common with each other than we realize. So why do we choose to squabble about our slight differences instead of banding together over our shared similarities? And why must we have to agree with another’s viewpoints in order to like or even respect the other person? So much war and pain and suffering is caused by the contention of points which can never even be proven definitively one way or the other. Look no further than the holy wars (both ancient and modern day) to see that battle played out on both sides. It’s a real shame.

Our beliefs are so deeply ingrained into us that we rarely question them, and we would rather die (or better yet, kill our opposition) than risk abandoning them or conceding defeat. Honestly, though, there’s nothing wrong with being, well, wrong. It takes a brave and wise person to admit a mistake, after all.

But even at that, we don’t have to give up on our faith. Just as there’s no need to convert everyone else to our way of thinking, there’s also no reason to drop our old beliefs and pick up something else on a whim. No, there’s a lovely concept known as an amiable “agreement to disagree” that seems to be a sure-fire end to conflict and dissent.

After all, “diversity” isn’t just a way to look progressive and get more funding…it’s what makes the world go ‘round.


Lindsey said...

You know, this has been a topic of frequent conversation for myself and others since moving to St. Louis. I think it is because WashU is primarily catholic and jewish (strange, yes). It makes for some interesting differences. =P

A new horse, really? Lolita is a pretty name even if it does remind me of a 12 year old nymphet.

Mozart said...

It's an interesting topic, for sure, and it's not just a religous thing, either. It seems to be the overarching societal competitive/antagonistic mindset. Shame.

And, well, the Lola horse didn't work out, so my mom and I are going to look at another one tonight (to "replace" Shorty, even though naturally he's irreplaceable). If we end up buying a gelding (boy), I SOOO wanna name it Rocketdog!