My last bit inspired lots of feedback and I realize that my message was not clear. My point, which I have only just begun to touch upon, is that we humans do a truly poor job of considering another person’s, or culture’s, lot. Only when we can let go of our own opinions for a moment and sink into another’s way of life can we begin to understand something actively and wholly, rather than just theoretically. We are so accustomed to our own biases and striving toward the way we want things that we don’t even consider that things might not exist as we assume they do.
Certainly, I haven’t gotten that far in my story, but some of the responses have been so contrary to my point that I want to clear a few things up first.
Spouses and children can be amazing delights and by my observation certainly the greatest teachers available. Because I am still learning more basic lessons, I’ve yet to enroll, but I certainly don’t begrudge anyone their choice to do so. In explaining my single & free framework of the last message, I wanted to convey that on previous trips abroad, I didn’t realize that almost no one understood my reasons for being single and childless no matter how passionately I explained. Nor did I realize just how squarely I was judged for it. I didn’t understand this for the very reason I was not understood—because I didn’t truly understand their culture. I understood theoretically, but not fundamentally, not in full blood. Their judgments of me were no more in error than my expectation that they comprehend my situation. The fabric of our cultures are just too different. We did have one common ground that fed our judgments: That our way was better. So much better, in fact, that we need not step out of its grasp long enough to consider openly the basis for other ways.
The Uzbeks are not Islamic radicals, at least not 98% of them, and certainly not the people I wrote about. They are Muslim like most of us are religious—they celebrate holidays. The response that Americans are fighting to keep our freedom because of views like those of the Kazakhs and Uzbeks is absurd. The war on Iraq is making Americans and the world less safe and making Uzbek radicals out of young men and women who previously never even went to mosque. How?
The president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, runs a repressive, abusive and corrupt government. He has persecuted and tortured Uzbeks for practicing Islam. Most everyone is tired of his rule, tired of the poverty and the repression that has gotten palpably worse since American’s so-called war on terror began. Of course, the Bush administration overlooks Karimov’s disgusting human rights violations because we have a base in his country, conveniently located on the northern border of Afghanistan. This doesn’t impress the Uzbek people and out of desperation, some have begun to take up arms with the IMU. Hence, America is creating Islamic radicals rather than stamping them out. To read more about this, check out EurasiaNet.
Frankly speaking, Americans’ freedoms are in more endangered by Christian fundamentalists than Muslim. If Bush and his party are honestly concerned about women’s (and human) rights, they would begin by passing pro-women (pro-people) legislation here, rather than incurring billions in debt by mucking about abroad.
But I digress.