February 26th, 2012

Tit For Tat Ain't The Golden Rule

Listening to "Karzai Talk" on "Afghan Public Radio" (I don't know what the show is really called since i listen on my car radio and have never heard the beginning or ending of any episode)  The "brothers" are trying unsuccessfully to burn a Bible in retaliation for the burnings of copies of the Quran by the U. S, military.  Their lighter is defective and their butane won't burn (must have been supplied by "contractors").  An attempt at humor, but only partially successful because of the sadness of the situation.

Of course, burning a Bible would in almost no way be comparable to the burning of a Quran.  At the risk of being overly dramatic, i would say the burning the Quran is more like re-crucifying Jesus.  After all, Jesus is (for Christians) the Word of God and the Bible (unless you are a fundamentalist) is important only because it tells them about Jesus.  For Muslims, the Quran is the Word of God and Mohammed and Jesus and others are his messengers..  Instead of looking for an appropriate compensation for this wrong, we should be looking beyond.

How is the military in the business of destroying books?  What is the proper way to ritually or gently dispose of a sacred text whose material utility is at an end.?  Shouldn't someone have inquired?  If the military had no use for them, could they not have been given to libraries or to the Afghanistan people?

How does our "Word"  tell us to treat our enemies?  Do we really have to treat public and private enemies differently.  Part of my contempt for states is that this question is always answered yes by the representatives of states.  I am reminded of the Mafia nephew who joined the army to fight in Viet Nam.  His uncle shouted, "What, you won't kill for the family, but you will kill for the goddamned government?!"  I certainly can't admire the Mafia's line of work, but i have to respect their priorities.  A government cannot put family or religion, or spirituality or anything else ahead of its own interests or its own survival.  What would happen if we all woke to how distorted this view is?  (Well, i just broke the last of my Lenten vows, and we are only five days in.  Hey, but Sundays are not a part of Lent are they?  No, otherwise Lent would be 46 days.)

The Golden Rule suggests that i should not do to others what i do not want done to me -- ever!  It is unequivocal in both its Confucian and (allegedly) positive Christian versions.  Jesus doesn't say "walk the second mile after you have beaten the crap out of the guy who forced you to walk the first mile."  Moderate and left wing Christians ought to remind fundamentalist Christians what Jesus would have done or recommended in situations where we tend to go off on some hate filled tangent; and moderate Muslims ought to remind their extremist brethern what Mohammed would have counseled or done in similar cases.

Gandhi once said something to the effect that an eye for an eye soon makes everybody blind.  It sometimes seems to me that that has already been accomplished.