April 6, 2007
Blog Against Theocracy, part one: a bit of humor to make a serious point
[Edited to add: this post represents one third to one half of my participation in the Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm. Please do go check out the other posts!]
A man was walking across a bridge one day and he saw another man standing on the edge, about to jump off and commit suicide. He immediately ran over and said “Stop! Don’t do it!”
“Why shouldn’t I?” the other said.
The man said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!”
“Well … are you religious or atheist?”
“Me too! Are you Muslim, Christian or Jewish?”
“Me too! Sunni or Shiite?”
“Me too! Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafi or Maliki?”
“Wow! Me too! Do you follow Sheikh Fulaan al Fullani or Sheikh Kaza Kazah?”
“Sheikh Fulaan al Fullani.”
To which the first man said, “What?!! Die, heretic scum!” and pushed him off.
I chuckled a bit when I first heard this joke, but it also made me think. Other religions can be broken down in a similar manner; think of the recent incident in which James Dobson stated that Fred Thompson isn’t a Christian because he isn’t an evangelical fundamentalist. There are people in this country who believe that the nation would be stronger if it would return to God (if you will), if its citizens would return to the beliefs that their forefathers (according to these people) held. The problem is that there is a subset of people among those aforementioned people who would not be satisfied if America were simply a Christian country. They would want the country to be Christian according to their specific requirements. Where does that end? Do you really suppose people like James Dobson would be satisfied if America were merely Christian? What, then, might happen to the Catholics, for example? (We already know, of course, what would happen to Muslims and Jews. Atheists would be Right Out.)
My ultimate point, then, is this: if you genuinely want the freedom to choose your own beliefs, then you should be willing to extend that same freedom to everyone. And by everyone I mean everyone, including people whose beliefs you disagree with. No, seriously–EVERYONE. Even the ones who follow Sheikh Fulaan al Fullani.