During my day job, I have often found myself in a class of students discussing what makes us ‘human’. The concept of being human is in itself mind-boggling. How are we so very different to animals? Are we so very different to animals? What differentiates us, and do we have a soul?
If you ask children to point to their ‘self’, they will point at their heart or their head, but these are simply physical body parts that we can name. Brain, heart, lungs; all have names. But none of these is our ‘self’. There is a part of us, perhaps our very consciousness, that we cannot point a finger at, something more than just the physical.
You don’t have to believe in a higher power in order to believe that there is something incredible about the way in which we are able to think, to reason, and to converse. Humans do more than communicate, and we do it with thousands of languages, gestures, behaviours, and technologies.
Given the recent sharp rise in terrorist attacks at the hands of IS, the fact that we are all human, seems to get lost. It is obviously crackers to suggest that ‘all Muslims are terrorists’, but it also seems to be becoming a socially acceptable form of prejudice, perhaps because there is suddenly an outlet for some people’s innate racism. But I believe it goes further than this, and deeper than racism, and that, subsequently, something deeper needs to be done in order to conquer it.
Human beings, from whichever background or ethnicity they hail, need to join as human beings. Not as categorized bodies according to belief, but as one race – and there is only one race. It is, of course, the human one.
Turning human beings against one another is easily done, especially by the media, but joining human beings together is not. Nobody holds up the KKK as a shining example of Christianity, and we don’t see all Roman Catholics being branded terrorists because of the IRA.
We need to see beyond people’s personal religious beliefs, and look at them for what they really are. The veil of ‘religion’ is blocking our view. People can commit murder under the guise of any religious belief they like – it doesn’t change the fact that what they are, is murderers. We need to look past the religious label, and at the behaviour instead – and then tackle those behaviours, not discriminate against others with the same religious name.
The Islam that IS speak of is not the Islam of 99.9% of the Muslim population, so perhaps people need to look at the decent humanity in that 99.9%, and offer kindness, not abuse.
(Image courtesy of wallpapers wide.com)
First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 24th November 2015