Working at a large university, I see several women a day wearing various forms of hijab to signify their modesty as Muslims. I found myself musing today that most people in our country could use a little more of the attitude that we are part of something larger than ourselves, and that perhaps fulfilling our own desires is not the most important thing in the universe. What could be wrong with that?
Here's what. Since Islam seems to be a touchy subject with some people lately, and since frankly I don't know enough about it to do anything but make a fool of myself, let's talk about the religion in whose bosom my soul was rocked as a child. That couldn't possibly upset anyone, right?
Somewhere around 2000 years ago, if I remember my "The Bible" correctly, an itinerant carpenter wandered the countryside telling people that they should be nice to one another, with the implied message that if we all tend to our own failings we will have much less time to fret about those of our neighbors. There were reports that he performed a few miracles, presumably to head off any questions regarding his moral authority. If I remember my Douglas Adams correctly, the powers that be nailed him to a tree for his trouble.
Barely a thousand years later we had hordes of His disciples delivering His love to the increasingly ironically named Holy Land on the point of a sword. Granted, the Crusades are actually quite complicated in the who did what to whom department, but the idea of two vast armies waging war under the banner of religion should work to illustrate my point. Which is not that religion is bad and only leads to evil and genocide.
My point, if I ever manage to get to it, is that it doesn't seem to be enough for people to be a part of something larger. We seem to have a need to make that big thing do something, which is where the trouble starts. Somehow it's not enough to dress modestly because we wish to be respectful, or to pray for our friends and family because it makes us all feel better. Prayers of the righteous need to be answered, and other people are in desperate need of being "saved" from their beliefs. If you want a Mercedes, "name it and claim it" in his name, and it shall be yours. If someone wants to build a different kind of church in your town, you need to do something about that. I haven't been to seminary, but I have a hard time believing that this is what Jesus had in mind.
I suppose this all goes back to our tribal identity, or some other academic humanistic liberal propaganda concept. We treat whatever group we are in like a football team. Our Ladies' Auxiliary can kick your Ladies' Auxiliary's ass. And once we've named it we've got to claim it, and deliver on the ass-kicking. Could it be that it's this pressure to deliver that starts us down the slippery slope of doing or thinking things we would never justify on our own, all in the name of the home team?
We forgive our teammates for -- or pretend we don't see -- things that will get a wandering Samaritan stoned to death in the town square. At least until someone notices out loud that the emperor has no clothes, and we are suddenly hit with the realization that it doesn't matter what school you coach, or to which party you belong, or who your daddy is. Wrong is wrong, and now what am I going to do with all of this shame?
It's a shame we can't just be satisfied with wearing the hijab, the cross, or the school colors, Someone should do something about that.