Monday, January 06, 2003

An Essay on Ignorance

So many people wonder about the question of peace: can we have peace, or are we doomed to another, more destructive war than ever before?

I believe that there is a possibility for peace, but only if we are able to defeat a terribly insidious enemy: one that feeds upon our fears and seeks to drive opposing forces into a battle which will produce no real winner. That enemy is no person that can be named, it is not a political ideology, nor is it a religious system — even one that that may produce fanatic adherents. This enemy appears in many guises, but ultimately it comes down to one basic principal: ignorance.

Ignorance is our enemy: it allows us to live our lives without knowing the history that brought us to this place in time. Ignorance allows us to live lives of isolation, where we do not know our neighbours because they may not be same as we are.

Ignorance allows us to watch injustice, in all its forms, and remain silent. How then, can we be even remotely surprised when people who have been marginalized and systematically oppressed by society all their lives, rise up against the hand of their oppressor? It happens as "race riots" in the United States, and we, as Canadians, look on in wonder, confused by the whole situation. But the root of the issue is ignorance. Failing to know the needs of your own citizens can only lead to conflict.

If we are truly honest with ourselves and ask what is the source of conflict facing the world today, we will see that it is not a "Jihad" — a "Holy War" of Islam. True Islam, if you know, is like true Christianity: it is about peace. Unfortunately, ignorance has caused a bastardization of both belief systems. Ask yourself this question: do you really believe God (or Allah) wants people to be killed in His name?

Of course not. But we cannot be as hateful towards our perceived enemy if we realize that all they want is what any of us want: to have a home to go to, a bed to sleep in, someone to love them and a safe place to raise our families.

In the pursuit of "justice" for the victims of the September 11 bombings the President of the United States, George W. Bush, has authorized the bombing of targets in Afghanistan in the hopes that Osama bin Laden would be killed, or brought to justice. The Taliban may have been ousted, but at what cost to the people of this country, who now have landmines, unexploded bombs and other hazards to cope with — all because the President deigned an entire country fair game for revenge.

The ignorance displayed by the United States is, without a doubt, the most dangerous and threatening to the preservation of humanity. When a single country becomes enabled to turn their foreign policy into the policy of the United Nations, it is truly time to be afraid for the future of our species.

We can have peace — but not the American way. Their way is too costly, and an enforced peace can never be lasting. Only through compassion and understanding will we be able to overcome the differences that separate us, and find the common ground that brings us together.