Thursday, January 15, 2009

Truth is an Onion

The truth that we are fed is nothing but the surface. The explanations we are offered are little more than simplifications, as a father would offer a young child so that he can get them to stop asking so many questions. Truth is layers: history that dates back years, centuries, and millennia. Truth is complexity; unintended slights, shameful acts, misdeeds, noble sacrifices. The problem with truth is that the more you want to understand it, the more layers you must peel back to find it, and the more you find, the more issues you uncover, which themselves must be peeled back until you reach a point where there is no longer any information to find, or the truth challenges the version of the truth that you have come to accept.

Here are a few inconvenient truths that have become clear to me:

* The reformation, which was built on Greek ideals, would not have been possible if Islamic scholars had not saved Greek texts by translating them while Europe was in the dark ages. In a very real sense, the foundation of our current "enlightened" culture owes an enormous debt of gratitude to the very people we war against on the other side of the world.

* The term "Islamofacsists," which the Bush administration coined to refer to Al Qaida, Hamas, and the Taliban really doesn't mean a thing since those groups have very little in common. Rather than refer to Al Qaida as fascists, they should call them what they reall are: anarchists.

* A war of ancient grudges, and by-gone political decisions made by people who were never affected by the results of their actions mean very little to the innocent boys and girls who are being inhumanly murdered by the hundreds by bombs and missiles.

* What happens over there affects us over here. Despite our differences, we all share a common thread of humanity. Attempts to dehumanize the "other" so that we can kill them, occupy their lands, exploit their resources, and seek to replace their culture with our own ultimately serve to dehumanize ourselves.

Truth is an onion, and unfortunately the more layers you peel back, the more it stinks. Next Tuesday a potentially great man will be taking office in this country. It is my belief that he understands the complexity surrounding the issues that have led to such suffering and he will take the necessary actions to restore a sense of humanity to our dealings with other people in far off places. We must restore our moral compass and act in accordance with our conscience instead of blatant self interest.

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