Saturday, March 22, 2008

I feel a rant coming on....

Just saw a thing on the news about a march in Melbourne. It was reported as a gathering of all religions to celebrate whatever today's about. A gathering of Christian religions. I saw no mention of any other religions. Oh man, there are several things that bother me about this.
Australians very rarely march. We are, as a rule, apathetic about everything except the hip pocket and the football. There are, obviously, the groups who demonstrate about a particular cause, usually environmental, but they're small and infrequent. There's a yearly march on April 25th to remember the war dead and the occasional union march when the government is being particularly stupid.
But, on the whole, we're a couldn't care less nation.
The last time I can remember seeing a march of a religious nature was way back in early 1960s Liverpool when I was less than 12. My nanna was in the Orange Lodge and they marched every year to celebrate something that I've now forgotten, but it was all to do with the victory of the Proddies over the Catlics. What I haven't forgotten is the prejudice. It's ingrained in me to such an extent that no amount of education or rational thought can eradicate it. I hate the Catholic church and that's a fact.
The irony of that is that I consider myself to be an educated, rational, tolerant person. I abhor racism, sexism, all the isms (except that one). I cannot stand fundamentalism of any kind. Yet, I have this ingrained prejudice that I cannot shake. Fortunately, I'm educated and old enough now not to act on it. When I was younger it was a different story.
And it stems from my upbringing in a deeply divided city. Divided along religious lines - catlic and proddy.
And I learned that divisiveness from watching people march for an idea, a religious belief.
The footage I saw from today disturbed me because it was exactly what I used to see all those years ago. Just one brand of flag, one brand of speaker, one point of view.
There is nothing more divisive. Nothing.
Because the differences are all in the detail. God, Allah, Jehovah - all the same, there's no dispute on that. It's the detail that people march, argue, fight, kill about. Pointless really. Completely pointless.

Just to elabotate the religious divide and how it can spread I've lifted this from a blog from Baghdad:

The Great Wall of Segregation...

…Which is the wall the current Iraqi government is building (with the support and guidance of the Americans). It's a wall that is intended to separate and isolate what is now considered the largest 'Sunni' area in Baghdad- let no one say the Americans are not building anything. According to plans the Iraqi puppets and Americans cooked up, it will 'protect' A'adhamiya, a residential/mercantile area that the current Iraqi government and their death squads couldn't empty of Sunnis.

The wall, of course, will protect no one. I sometimes wonder if this is how the concentration camps began in Europe. The Nazi government probably said, "Oh look- we're just going to protect the Jews with this little wall here- it will be difficult for people to get into their special area to hurt them!" And yet, it will also be difficult to get out.

The Wall is the latest effort to further break Iraqi society apart. Promoting and supporting civil war isn't enough, apparently- Iraqis have generally proven to be more tenacious and tolerant than their mullahs, ayatollahs, and Vichy leaders. It's time for America to physically divide and conquer- like Berlin before the wall came down or Palestine today. This way, they can continue chasing Sunnis out of "Shia areas" and Shia out of "Sunni areas".

I always hear the Iraqi pro-war crowd interviewed on television from foreign capitals (they can only appear on television from the safety of foreign capitals because I defy anyone to be publicly pro-war in Iraq). They refuse to believe that their religiously inclined, sectarian political parties fueled this whole Sunni/Shia conflict. They refuse to acknowledge that this situation is a direct result of the war and occupation. They go on and on about Iraq's history and how Sunnis and Shia were always in conflict and I hate that. I hate that a handful of expats who haven't been to the country in decades pretend to know more about it than people actually living there.

I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.

1 comment:

Janet said...

Have you read The Kite Runner? It talks about the differences in detail. Interesting book.