Looks like I’m managing a post every two days rather than daily, but hey it’s regular.
I wasn’t really sure what to post today, then my mind harked back to a talk I was having with Lindsay last night. Lindsay is Sean’s flatmate (Sean’s one of the talented writers churning out reviews and so forth on the Moshville Times *plug plug*) and we were having one of those random conversations that flows like a ball down a Pachinko machine. You just never quite know where it’s going to end up.
I think we were talking about the differences between countries, and one that always sticks out for me is India / Bangladesh. The former a country that’s predominantly Hindu (with a large smattering of other religions), the latter a Muslim nation. Both countries share a border and the difference when you cross that border is almost immediately tangible.
India is – to steal the tagline from their tourist advertising – incredible. It’s also an unusual country in that I hated it when I was there, but longed to go back once I left. It’s a tough experience to visit, especially on a budget, but ultimately the rewards are worth it.
Bangladesh is every bit as impoverished as the worst parts of India, there aren’t so many impressive sites (it’s a smaller country, for a start), but the feeling I got when I was there was much warmer; more welcoming. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I felt safer walking the streets in Bangladesh – even late at night – than in almost any other country I have visited. I even include my home nation in there.
And that brings me to the sideways jump in topic. Bangladesh is a Muslim country. The people there follow their beliefs in a faithful and well-intended manner. They look after their poor (reducing begging on the street), and welcome visitors to their nation. Nobody tried to rob or cheat us in our time there. Very much the opposite in fact.
Yet the knee-jerk reaction to the word “Muslim” from so many people, whole nations in fact, is to think of those events in 2001, videos of beheadings on the internet, attacks on magazine offices in Paris… all the actions of a tiny minority of extremists.
While I’m no fan of religion, this kind of treatment also extends to the Catholic church. A billion or so members worldwide and the entire religion is tarred by the vile brush wielded by a tiny number of priests and nuns who have abused children -and the small number of people further up in the organisation who helped cover it up for so long. What about the 999,999,000 other people who would agree that this is reprehensible and who you’d happily have round for dinner and babysit your own children?
Is it fair to judge a person purely on the company they keep; if they share the beliefs of another individual who does something reprehensible yet otherwise unrelated? I love heavy metal. Does that mean I’m as evil as Varg Vikernes who murdered one of his friends and burned churches down? It seems to have taken us nigh on seventy years to stop blaming every single German for WWII.
People should be judged on who they are and what they do. Not on the actions of other individuals with whom they happen to share a belief, a skin colour or a nationality.
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