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more on the religion thing

January 6, 2009

I would like to elaborate a little more on my position with regards to the ‘people from other religions’ thing. Or to clarify something. I know that there is a difference between “Iranian” and “Muslim”. I also (now) know that there is a huge difference between “Muslim” and “fundamentalist”. And the more I think about it, it is not any one religion that I fear. I fear fundamentalism, of every kind. I fear the Jewish fundamentalists as much as I do the Christian and the Muslim fundamentalists. I fear anybody who is so convinced that theirs is the only perspective that they wish for other lives to be lost to affirm this. I fear this in the same way as I fear beaurocracies. Or any institution that dehumanises us, places a label on us, a stamp on your hand, a tattoo on your arm, a number on your ID.

When I am in busy crowds, I am so overwhelmed by the sheer mass of people, by all of their talking, and their feelings, and their breath and their smells and colours, that I often just want to plough through them, or mow them down, to get away. I am not sure what the critical mass of persons per square foot is, for me to want to commit mass murder (please read: I am not speaking literally– I have not, nor have I ever really planned or thought about mass murder. How sad that we need these disclaimers now.).

Or like being on a plane, when it takes off and you can still see people, and they look like little ants, running about far below. I don’t know many people who think twice about killing an ant. When I lived in the Desert over the summer I committed ant genocide every morning, and I felt a little guilty about it, but I had to do it because they were EVERYWHERE.

But that’s what generalisation does. If we are just numbers, then we are easy to eliminate, and it is very easy to point a finger at a group of numbers and say “eh, get rid of them”. And that is why fundamentalists scare me so: because to them we are not humans– we are just “the other”– a part of a great mass that lies outside the boundary of what is understood. And it is scary. And there are just so damn many of us.

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