First of all the idiots who threatened the South Park producers must be condemned and rounded up without any delay. It is a law and order issue. One of the pieces of my conversation with Sean Hannity was about the South Park incident
2. Secondly, it is really not a Muslim or an Islamic issue, it is an issue of radicals who do not like the freedom of others, it is about the people who like to mess other's peace. It is not a Muslim issue because this mind-set exists in every group, religion, or tradition without exception. The Right wingers have killed doctors who perform abortions and even bombed the clinics, the Gay people are mauled and killed right here in Oak Lawn by the extremists, this is not a Christian issue, this is the issue of extremism. The Bahia’s refused to serve the homeless, because they were gay. A Jewish mother disowns her daughter because she is marrying an idol worshipper. The Hussain controversy was neither a Hindu issue, a few did not like the freedom of others and vandalized the author. The Cartoon controversy is neither a Muslim issue. Jesus was right, let the one who is sin-free cast the first stone.
3. Thirdly, it is really an issue of score keeping. You hurt me and I will hurt you attitudes prevail and like idiots we blame the religion. All we have to do is seriously (real seriously) look at the number of people involved in these incidents, they are negligible. It would not make sense to label the entire group for the actions of the few, unless, we enjoy bashing other or seek thrill in trouble making.
4. Fourthly, there will be always a few, yes, just a few, who dwell in creating divisions and promoting conflicts, there is some gain for them in it. When people are bent on score keeping, both sides will be scoring as opposed to coming to terms. A majority of us sit on the sidelines, some of us have to pick the slack and work for creating a better world for us to enjoy. We are in it together to bring peace and harmony for all.
5. Lastly, my personal commitment is to facilitate dialogue, to be non-judgmental and let my time be spent on mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. I would urge all of us to patiently try being a goodwill nurturer and conflict mitigaters. Doing bad does give the momentary thrills, but doing good gives lasting serenity.
Please note that I am posting this note about Drawing Muhammad as a forum for a dialogue, just as we did with Hussain. Let’s find solutions and also understand that some will not like it.
What can you do?
Stereotyping any one from any group goes against building peaceful societies. The more conflicts we allow to stew, the more difficult it will become for all of us. If someone says, this group of people behave this way, ask them to add all other groups that do similar things... and you will find that eventually every group has one of them.... Bad dudes are not a monopoly of any group.
Punish the wrong doer and not his mother, father, brother, sister and avoid doing the dumbest thing; to blame the bad dude's family, his city, state, religion or his nation.
What can Muslims do?
Follow the example of the prophet; he has created a model for every situation. Once when the bad dudes threw pieces of rock at him, he was bleeding and his associates wanted to dash out and punish the miscreants, even the Angel Gabriel said, he will take care of them. But the prophet stopped them and said, no, instead he asked his associates to pray with him for the goodwill of the miscreants.
I would suggest, pray for goodwill to prevail, write nice notes to the producers...the more you get agitated, the more they would be tempted to agitate you. One side has to stop the conflagration. It is the opportunity for Muslims to demonstrate it. Several years ago, many mosques had prayed for the goodwill of the Dutch cartoonists upon my request... sadly the media did not report that. I have the emails from the people who did the right thing.
If you know the producers of South Park, please let them know that there are more Muslims willing to protect their rights than a few radicals who have threatened them.
It is our duty to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate is one of the many sources of disrupting the peace in a society and it is our responsibility to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it. We have an obligation to maintain a balance in the society. When we are at peace, we can generate peace and we can expect peace around us. Our words and actions should mitigate conflicts and nurture reconciliation and goodwill.
Mike Ghouse is a frequent guest at the media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. He is a thinker, writer, speaker, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace, Islam, India and Civil Societies. His work is reflected at 3 websites & 22 Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/