Protests throughout the Middle-East condemning Reverend Terry Jones’ claim that he will burn copies of the Quran (which the Reverend then said he would not do and is now reconsidering again), have resulted in injuries and the stupidest of all responses, the burning of the American flag. Like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck’s followers, there are people everywhere who simply do not put two and two together.
Burning the American flag is not the best way to convince anyone that they should respect the Quran and not burn copies. However, while it’s easy to assume that most Afghans or Pakistanis protesting are this misguided, be reminded that it’s just as easy for them to think that most Americans are like the Reverend Jones. Both sides react based on extreme actions by a select faction of people and violence, hate, and oftentimes murder ensue.
Osama Bin Laden, George Bush, Dick Cheney, the Reverend Terry Jones, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin… these are all people who offer those seeking an avenue to syphon their fear and anger a place to rage. To gather together with others who have not come to terms with the emotions they are feeling and allow them to act inappropriately and dangerously. This is not new to society. Any society. It is not new to the human race. Joseph McCarthy, Adolph Hitler… granted, those are extremes, but the idea is the same. People the world-over are disillusioned and fearful. We all struggle with these emotions. We always have.
Hopefully through the events of the past ten years, we will all start to learn just how susceptible we are to those who prey on those fears and insecurities, whether they do so knowingly or through ignorance. It’s one thing to try and learn from the past, from something one hasn’t experienced oneself. It’s another to live through it, as we are doing now.
I wonder if it’s possible to learn how dangerous this type of behavior is and to actually pass that on to further generations. Or do we all have to learn it for ourselves and be doomed to repeat it for all eternity? Or at least until we take it so far that there’s no turning back.
Let’s hope something good comes from it all. At least in the present. And let’s hope it doesn’t get too much worse before it gets better.