Friday, February 3, 2006

Perceptions and intention

Perception1_2Perception2_1Perception4Perception is what defines the way we build our beliefs and behaviours... which is of course a belief too. Now, each of these pictures contains at least two images and one of them will seem most obvious to you.

Many situations in life are like that and certainly the huge emotion we are now witnessing with the drawings of Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. A fundamental assumption about the intentions of the creators of these drawings is what eventually shapes the behaviour we have concerning this matter. Which is also true of the stance of some Muslims around the planet. If they choose to believe the intention is to offend and demean their culture and faith (and it would be interesting to see how such a belief may have emerged over the past 50 to 100 years), then of course their reaction will be violent (as it is). On the other hand, if they were to assume a positive intention at least for the creators of the drawings then their reaction might be different. To make that assumption of intention it would be handy if they believed that there is room for more than one worldview on the planet, which is something we western believers in democracy and freedom of the press could be promoting more actively. Obviously the idea that there are many ways to see the world is not conveyed when one party in full control of one country decides to embark on a crusade to teach a single truth to the world (syndrome of "you are with us or you are against us"). This universe works on the basis of mirror effects: what I give is also what I get. If I give understanding, dialogue and genuine compassion, then that is what Iget in response most of the time, even if there are exceptional cases when the least violent appropriate answer is actually quite assertive. It may be time to review world governance...

I have seen the drawings. Most of them are boring like hell, a couple are not very respectful of the Prophet (and I believe it is the right of the authors not to be respectful provided they are not insulting in the expression of their opinion) and a couple are funny. And this is only my opinion. Up to you to make yours and here are the drawings: Download lesdouzedessinsduprophte.pps

By the way I believe in complete, unrestricted and responsible freedom of expression and I am ready to promote or defend that value no matter what.



  1. Thanks for the opportunity to discover these drawings. You are right, there is nothing very exciting there.
    The current situation is certainly the result of the current & agressive "lesson of democracry" given by the hawkish gang of the Bush administration ; combined with well orchestrated "spontaneous" protests in the Muslim world.
    I have also the feeling that Islam is in a desperate need of a reform à la protestantism. The Hegira year is currently 1425: how was Christianism in 1425? Nothing to be proud of, I am afraid.
    At this time, christianity was also in desperate need of a reform. Should Muslims be afraid of such a reform? If the same thing that happened to Christianity (rediscovering the true meaning of the texts) happens to them, the answer is clearly "no".
    But a reform needs controversy. And controversy requires free minds. And free minds are the product of education...

  2. David,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Fully agree with you about the necessary evolution of generally accepted interpretation of scriptures... perhaps towards an understanding that is more the product of individual thinking and meditation rather than imitation and repetition of what extremists preach.
    And YES it is a matter of education, which is why I support all initiatives that contribute to open education: Public Knowledge, EFF, creative commons, open source initiatives...

  3. i know this is definitely simplistic, however i strongly believe in the reciprocal respect and the equilibrium that should be present when two different cultures and religions get in contact.
    i also am very aware that the argument that talks about the impossibility of building christian churches on muslim territories when compared to the possibility we give them in ours is not one, since muslim countries are aften not democracies.
    i'm more than aware of the ravages many unilateral decisions, of which the last wars are only another example, did on many muslim countries, and can thus understand the rage some of these persons may have inside towards these behaviours, the country leaders that made these possible and their inhabitants which are tolerating the whole situation.
    however, one thing i'm seeing here is that the self-claimed peaceful attitude of muslims often becomes violent critics on various arguments such as this one related to our newspapers, which cumulate into the familiar burning of national flags.
    moreover, muslims welcomed in our countries often engage in crusades such as making compulsory that only women policemen can verify the identity of covered muslim women or the removal of chirstian crosses in our schools.
    i've never seen open mass criticism in the other direction.
    sometimes i'm very honestly unable to distinguish between the current (?) us/european attitude and muslim countries' ones: pointing at an evil side.
    that's where it is most hard to stick to democracy's values; believing that everybody should benefit from them even when differences strongly increase and some of these could even be threats to the values themselves.

  4. Observation 1: when one speaks of a value they believe characterizes them it is interesting to consider what the statement means if it is their social ego who speaks (cf. Jung's texts): the more desirable socially something the social ego claims, the less valid it is about the person.
    Observation 2: respect is a two way street.
    Observation 3: past injustice cannot be compensated with present injustice in the other direction.
    Observation 4: ignorance is a luxury too expensive for mankind to afford such that no budget on education can be considered excessive... especially when billions are spent to wage wars.
    Observation 5: extreme positions are precisely similar in the effect they produce.
    Bottom line: fire cannot be extinguished with fire and "an eye for an eye" will leave everyone blind and miserable. How can we educate children in Palestine to respect democracy and world order when all they have seen is violence, division, hatred, death, and destruction? One question that has been haunting me for years: what can we do about this? I have simply decided to do what I can, peacefully, wherever I am with whatever means I can use. Global awareness, expression of opinions and local action in all sorts of contexts using means that are adequate in those contexts...