Saturday, April 20, 2013

doesn't line up

Yesterday, in the wake of the capture of the asshole that performed the Boston Marathon bombings, I posted this on Facebook:

This image caused quite a stir for me in a very short amount of time.  A couple of "friends" on Facebook took great exception to this.  One in particular quoted the statement I hear from the hard-right (usually) that because the Muslim leadership (if there is such a thing) never says anything about this "with clarity" that he didn't believe it.  I attempted to start a dialog about this by saying that I have day-to-day contact with a number of Muslims who have said this to me (not quoting this meme, mind you) so I believed it to be true- but before I could even start the dialog, another "friend" took the first "friend" to task about how Christians were not tolerant, and thus it began.  A holy war on Facebook.  (Geez- that never happens, right?)  By the way- I'd like to point out that the operative words in the meme above are "most".  And, before anyone says this- I am not equating the actions of Westboro Baptist Church and Islamic Jihadists. Putting up a sign with an offensive saying is not the same thing as setting off a bomb that kills children or maims innocent people.  Don't think for a hot second that I am saying that- if you do think that I'm stupid enough to make a statement like that, just move along.......there's nothing to see here......

I'll make the snarky statement right now that I never see the Pope ever make a statement about Westboro Baptist, either.  Why is that?  There's an easy answer to that- why should he?  They're idiots.  No one needs to call that out- it's patently obvious.  The same can be said of the militant Muslims who do these sorts of things like 9/11 and the Boston Marathon- whether or not the Muslim leadership says they're idiots, I'd like to think that obvious points are obvious.  I guess that's too much for some people to grasp- but, that's not why I'm writing this blog entry.

Even though I have "Conservative-like" opinions on many things, I'm not a Right-Winger.  I'm not a Republican.  That doesn't mean I'm a "Liberal", either, nor am I a Democrat.  I'm what you call- now, get this:

A MODERATE.

Yep.  That's right.  I'm neither left nor right; republican nor democrat.  And, what's more- I think that there are far, far more of me than there are of the polarized views that seem so prevalent these days.

The reason that I am this way is very simple- but to say this is almost anethema to some- BOTH sides have good things to say.  BOTH sides have bad things to say.  I will not say that one is more correct than the other.  I honestly believe it is 50/50.  What I try to do is listen to both sides of the argument and then- oh, shocker- I critically think my way to a conclusion that I can live with.  And, if I can't think my way there, I seek to do a little more digging.  Sometimes, I find that I have no opinion either way, neither for nor against.  Gay marriage is one of those items, for instance.

There is an old German saying- "Versuchen zu verstehen, nicht zu verstehen", which, when translated to English means, "Seek understanding, not to be understood".  The very first thing anyone must do in the process of critical thinking is to attempt to understand the opposing viewpoint.  Note that I did not say understand the opposing argument.  I want to understand where the other person is coming from, for that is going to be the foundation of their argument.  Once I think I understand that, I'll ask again to be sure.  At that point, discussion can begin.  Throughout the discussion, I will ask to make sure I understand where the person is coming from- not to point out weakness of their arguments (but that does happen sometimes) but to check my own perspective on the points they are making.  Above all, I keep LISTENING.

Honestly, a full 90% of the time I do this, I end up learning something- and that's good.  I don't have all the answers to life's questions, and no one else does, either.  I'm fallible, and so are you- and, that's kind of what makes life interesting.  If all the answers to things were known, this world would be boring.

Now, I am a Christian.  I do believe that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ.  I do not ascribe to the viewpoints or the theology of Islam.  That is my right to do- but, and this is where things get out of control with "friends" who just can't do this- I also believe it is NOT my job to bash people with other viewpoints.  If I truly believe that Christianity is so great, then it is incumbent upon me to show that to others through my actions with them FIRST, and, if necessary, use words.  (I'm paraphrasing a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi - but it isn't really known who actually said it, but I like that idea- but, I am digressing...)

Honestly, the violation of the old German adage above is one of the foundational problems with the world today.  If we could at least try to understand where people are coming from, the world would be a better place.  I am NOT suggesting that every argument is valid (there is rarely two valid sides to a story) and there absolutely are persons who are not worth the time to take to understand them- that is 100% true- but they are the exception and not the rule.  The liberal agenda of revised healthcare coverage in this country, for instance - as an example - the idea of it has merit.  Our healthcare system is completely jacked up and something does need to be done, for instance.  Obamacare is not the answer, however- but, then again, I don't hear a solid idea coming from the other side, either.  Likewise, the conservative agenda for limiting spending in order to heal our economy makes sense- but, then the Republican party during W.'s Presidency was a spending machine........and, the Democrats, now in power, are taking that to a whole new level- so their arguments are invalid.  

Like I said- good points and an equal number of bad points on both sides.  And, a heaping helping of hypocrisy, too.

So, I guess my viewpoints don't line up comfortably for a lot of people.  Too bad.  God gave me a brain and I intend to use it, and if that means that we can't be "friends", I really don't know what I can do about that.  If you are offended to the point of cutting contact over something as dumb as a misunderstood meme, I am not sure that you were ever my "friend" in the first place.