By Paige Carswell
If anyone said it best, it was Yoda. The three-foot-tall, pointy-eared green-skinned alien used his outer-space wisdom when he said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
As much as we don’t want to admit it, humans are all just animals, and we are driven by our most basic instincts—and perhaps the most shameful of all is the irrational fear we attribute to, well, everything.
It starts when we’re very young. We’re bitten by a dog, and suddenly, all dogs are evil. We eat salsa that is too hot, and then choose to eat the chips plain from then on. We realize that the crooks on television use knives, and begin to pass the butter knife to our parents at the dinner table.
But these are only small things. We’d never do the same thing to people, right?
The most wonderful thing about humans is that we have the ability to reason through the most difficult of situations, to pick out the good and the bad and to make distinctions between the two.
And the most terrible thing is that we don’t.
One team walks around campus with the roles of being the drug users; one major walks around with the reputation of “those geeky losers.” Women who stand up for their beliefs are often classified as feminists who probably don’t shave their armpits and churchgoers can all be the goody-goodies.
Classifying everyone in the same group is the main problem, and is a huge problem for the culture center debate right now.
Of course the people building the Islamic Culture Center have a right to do so. Perhaps it will be a step toward healing and learning, and perhaps it won’t. Either way, it’s our decision.
The mess about whether or not there will be a backlash that will hurt more than this “mosque” could ever help is sad, but true. We’re Americans, dang it. We don’t change our minds and we don’t forget and God help us, we don’t forgive.
As if there’s anything for us to forgive. There is a distinct difference between the Islamic culture and how the radical people who partook in Sept. 11, 2001 view it—perhaps like there is a distinction between Christianity and the way the Ku Klux Klan or Fred Phelps views it.
If we could separate the two in our minds, there wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look like it is going to happen anytime soon. But, as wise little Yoda said, it’s the fear that perpetuates more anger, and, ultimately, more suffering.
Understanding—being the bigger person—is one of the most difficult things to do, which is why we don’t hear of many people trying. But ultimately, it is one of the things that should distinguish us from the rest of the animal kingdom. We can’t run around trying to anticipate the next time something bad is going to happen, and we definitely can’t single out a group of people who are exercising their freedom of religion.
All other things aside, this is a decision for students, for politicians, for athletes and for actors. Everyone in the United States has a chance to stand up and put on their big person pants.
Milan Kundera once said, “Human decisions are terribly simple.” But, they don’t have to be. They can be thought out, if we want. We can allow others to have their own opinions without sculpting them based on their sex, age or ethnicity.
Without fear, or anger, we can allow people to just be themselves.
Paige Carswell is a senior majoring in journalism. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.