As the amateur film Innocence Of Muslims causes widespread anger, Sir Salman Rushdie discusses the fatwa Iran issued against him.
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One might get ridicule or vitriolic hate for espousing a view that others find offensive - whether they understand it or not! but until Mr Rushdie's experience, no one (in this country or in any other liberal democracy) had received a religiously backed and nation backed death threat along with a willingness to carry it out as if it were not murder but duty to God.
The shock waves are still present as a sense of a sword hanging over our heads if we should be believed to speak of Islam or the Prophet Mohammed in a way that is felt to be offensive. There are cultural tectonic plates that are irreconcilable. The tendency has been an appeasement policy along with a similar mirror mentality arising in the west called; 'war on terror'.
Mr Rushdie was doing similarly to what anyone else in creative writing does, and in a culture that was felt to be finally becoming free of medieval religious dictates. His protection is not a personal favour so much as protecting the values of our culture - such as it has grown them.
But the mind is not as it thinks itself to be and there are many levels and strands to our consciousness, our culture and the world. If your death hangs in the balance of what you say, then make sure that what you say is in the truth of your heart!
Threat of death doesn't invite or command respect for God, but only a veiled obedience to cover a disdain beneath! Power in the world can dictate a form but cannot truly inspire or share or love.
The ones who made the hate video are the same mind as the ones who want to kill 'insulter's of Islam'. They thrive on hating 'evil' as they define it.
Globalisation has many aspects, one of which is that our local mythology no longer stays effectively private and our words can be taken as malevolent attack by those already nursing grievance or hatred within, who have the active willingness and capacity to retaliate.
War is the failure of communication, and is often the way tectonic shifts occur. A willingness to communicate is a great treasure, because we have to put our own self aside to hear and feel the other. Opinions are cheap and voicing the opinions of one's social group as if to be bigger than we are, is also cheap.
Mr Rushdie didn't know that his book would have such a result on his life - and on all of our lives. But if he hadn't wrote it, someone else would have effectively triggered the same response and with similar effect.
For better and for worse we are having to be more conscious with our communication. But if 'correctness' is imposed by threat rather than expressing a shared sense of worth from within, it will all be sterile - that is, devoid of any real communication at all!
The insult of the powerful over the powerless rides roughshod over them, but to those in defiance of such earthly power, retaliation seems a blow against evil.
I feel a Call for a true Cultural renewal - that is - to put our self construct aside and listen and feel for truth that is not of our own thinking, (adopted or otherwise). Within that context, we can give form to what is felt in a way that can find, one step at a time in a true willingness to communicate.
The subjugation of the dominant global market culture - as personified in the US and Western Europe, has nation states with arsenals of weaponry both financial and hardware of war. No one can realistically 'fight' this and much about it seeks domination and control regardless of the consequences to other peoples including their own! While this pervasive power has tentacles all around the world, it justifies itself by being a better system than what would otherwise prevail - and it gets self validation from seeing the evil in the 'other'.
This imposition of power doesn't justify issuing fatwa, but it does create a broad feeling of antipathy and distrust of the cultures that talk freedom and deal otherwise. Whenever there is a broad feeling or undercurrent of discontent, it becomes a soil in which extremism finds tolerance or support at some level rather than rejection.
All attempts to control life create reaction. The answer is to become conscious of such action and reaction so as to put that script aside and listen in simple trust for a communication of Wholeness. This may sound crazy to those who are addicted to their own thinking - but it is natural to our being.
Blessed indeed is the Messenger of God (by all names and any Name or without name), for Wholeness restores a perspective in which guilt, fear, pain, grievance and loss - are healed. The habit of a mind of reaction persists and is undone one step at a time - as it rises to awareness to be released. This is the crucial part; when it rises in our mind, we take it as our own and act out of accord with the wholeness of our being. This reflects as our experience of life in the world - which is always interpretation. Experience of dissonance is a call to our mind to wake - and not a call to put it on the other and deny or kill it. That kind of old magic does not eradicate guilt - but feeds it in the dark for a brief feeling of alleviation.
To look within is to observe our own mind and see directly - in place of living out the stories and spin that we have constructed in attempt to control our own mind.The baggage of fear and guilt is much more deeply embedded than the surface mind would imagine - and yet is baggage associated directly with the very urge to control.
Growing or restoring trust does not begin with making demand, but with a willingness to listen and a capacity to trust the embodiment of what is felt as a result of truly listening.