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Posts tagged ‘humanity’

CrISIS


In the last few months, a terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS), or as the US government refers to it by its most recent former name, ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), commonly known by their less recent former name, ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has emerged as a dangerous threat in the Middle East. This might be the most dangerous Islamic terrorist group the world has ever seen. A United States Special Forces official has been quoted as saying, “They’re incredible fighters. ISIS teams in many places use special operations [tactics, techniques, and procedures].” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has said, “They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded…This is beyond anything we’ve seen.” The organization has assets worth $2 billion. They use social media to recruit members and get their message out and are very resourceful. Not only do they have membership from the countries that they reside in, but a significant portion of ISIS members are people who come from European countries, especially Britain and France, who leave their lives in those countries to fight with ISIS. It even has a notable number of Americans in the group. This is a group that was disowned by al-Qaeda for being too extreme. They are a Sunni group that forces people to convert to their faith by any means (or if you are Christian you have the option to pay a “religious levy”). Some theorize, however, that they are not really Sunnis but actually Kharijites. They may adhere to Islamist or jihadist or Wahhabist principles. No one is safe from them. Men, women, children, nuns, everyone is in danger. They especially have harmed non-Arabs, Shia Muslims, Christians (especially indigenous Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac, and Armenian Christians), Druzes, Shabaks, Mandeans, and especially Yazidis. They have also been accused of ethnic cleansing of minority groups in northern Iraq by Amnesty International. The Islamic State has even recruited child soldiers. Some of the horrible acts they commit are the kidnapping and raping of women as well as other forms of sexual violence, the torture, mutilation, and killing of people who refuse to declare Islamic creed, crucifixions, the beheading of journalists, etc. The current goal of ISIS is to create an Islamic state or caliphate based on Islamist or sharia law all throughout the Middle East. They want to conquer all lands in the Levant. And why do they want to do these things? They claim it’s because it’s what God wants them to do.

And therein lies the problem. There is a huge problem in the Abrahamic faiths in that we cannot seem to stop breaking the third Commandment. Here are a few different translations of this Commandment: “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses His name,” or “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain,” or “Do not use My name for evil purposes, for I, the LORD your God, will punish anyone who misuses My name.” Misusing God’s Name is an act known as blasphemy. Essentially what this means is that when we invoke the Name of God we need to make sure that we are very careful with how we are using it and not to disgrace it with our actions that we plan to commit in His Name. So let’s take a look at some things that people have done in God’s Name and why these actions have disgraced His Name. And let’s also come up with some rules to figure out what kinds of things we should avoid doing in God’s Name.

I think one general rule should be this: if what you are about to do involves intentionally harming someone else, you should probably not invoke the Name of God. For example, if you decide to go on a violent jihad that involves harming civilians, maybe you should double check what your Quran says about that. Muhammad instructed Muslims to never harm “People of the Book” (people of the Abrahamic faiths such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc.). Members of ISIS are killing and torturing scores of Christians and Shia Muslims. If you believe Muhammad was the last prophet of God and the most important prophet and the last person to deliver God’s Word, why wouldn’t you listen to it? Also, another verse in the Quran states, “…fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.” When ISIS members kill civilians, people who have done nothing to them, they are going against this teaching. In fact, not only are they disgracing God’s Name, but according to their own faith they have lost God’s love by doing so. There are a few reasons that I think people fight for ISIS. One is that they are uneducated in the ways of Islam and simply listen to what others say and perhaps have hate and anger in their hearts. Another is that they know the teachings and just ignore it and use their faith as an excuse and vessel for their hatred and violence. A third is that they are just plain stupid. By their actions they are disgracing their faith and giving Muslims a bad name. They are also giving God a bad name.

A second rule about invoking God’s Name should be that if what you are doing in God’s Name involves judgment, you should in most cases avoid it. Westboro Baptist Church is the prime culprit of this crime. They are a church that goes around protesting people’s funerals or really anything they can think of that in some way they can link to homosexuality, which they believe is pretty much the single greatest evil and scourge that humanity faces. They picket military funerals because soldiers fight for a country that repealed “don’t ask; don’t tell,” holding signs up that say things like “Thank God for dead soldiers.” They picketed the funerals of the Newtown shooting victims because they believed the Newtown shooting was God’s retribution for America’s increasing acceptance of homosexuals. They also believe 9/11 was God’s retribution for the same thing. They picketed Nelson Mandela’s funeral because they claimed he was an adulterer. But perhaps the most horrible display of judgment and hate they ever committed was their reaction to the death of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. They picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard as well as the trial of Shepard’s assailants, holding up signs that said things like “AIDS kills fags dead,” “Matt Shepard rots in Hell,” “God hates fags,” etc. But worst of all, they had so much hate in their heart towards Shepard that the leader of the church, Fred Phelps, attempted to get city permits in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Casper, Wyoming to build a monument between five and six feet tall that had a bronze plaque with a picture of Shepard on it and these words:¬†MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God’s Warning: ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is an abomination.’ Leviticus 18:22.” This amount of hatred is clearly not Christian. In the Bible Jesus says that the two greatest commandments that sum up the teachings of the 10 Commandments are these: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself. On these commandments hang all the law and the prophets.'” The way that the members of this church hate gay people is horrifyingly unbiblical and goes against the Bible’s greatest teachings. The members of this church have also broken the biblical teaching known as the Golden Rule: “‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.'” Would you want someone to picket your funeral or the funeral of someone you loved? They also broke this teaching of Jesus: “‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?…You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” By acting like it is fact that Matthew Shepard entered Hell, Fred Phelps is making a judgment that only God can make. These people are judging what kind of person Shepard was when they never even knew him and judge all gay people. I’m a Christian, and I know that there is a lot of debate over the morality of homosexuality within my faith. My view is I don’t know how God feels about it, but it’s not my job to judge people. Judgment is God’s job. God will judge whether someone should enter His Kingdom or not. So let’s leave the judgment up to God and just love our neighbor and treat all people with respect and kindness.

The third and final rule about doing things in God’s Name, and perhaps this rule sums up the other two rules: make sure if you do something in God’s Name, it’s an act of love. God is Love. Therefore, why would he want us to commit acts of hatred in His Name? Let’s use what our religions teach us for good. God made us in His Image, so it is our job to make sure we make His Image look good and not disgrace it or make Him look bad. Let’s end all this blasphemy so we can stop all this evil and make our religions blessings, not curses. Then and only then will we stop seeing groups like ISIS.

Sources

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/isis-incredible-fighting-force-us-special-ops-sources/story?id=25116463

http://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/Listedterroristorganisations/Pages/IslamicState.aspx

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/25/world/middleeast/isis-abu-bakr-baghdadi-caliph-wahhabi.html?_r=0

http://eaworldview.com/2014/02/syria-umar-shishanis-second-command-isis-slams-scholars-sow-discard-dont-fight/

http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21615634-sunni-religious-authorities-turn-against-islamic-state-slow-backlash

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/18/isis-islamic-state-issue-ultimatum-to-iraq-christians

http://online.wsj.com/articles/iraqs-christian-minority-feels-militant-threat-1403826576

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29026491

https://web.archive.org/web/20140714145246/http://www.clarionproject.org/news/armed-children-young-9-patrolling-streets-mosul

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/15/iraq-isis-arrest-jihadists-wealth-power

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Humanity’s Funny Relationship With Itself


Beating or hitting or assaulting a woman in any way is a horrible and despicable act for a man to commit. It shows a lack of respect and a lack of care. Whoever does so needs to get help to resolve their issues. It is an unacceptable action.

In February a video surfaced on TMZ of Baltimore Ravens halfback Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiance (now wife) Janay out of an elevator in Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It would be revealed that Rice had physically assaulted Janay. Rice would give an account to the Ravens of what happened in the elevator. In March, Rice would be indicted on third degree aggravated assault. National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell in July suspended Ray Rice for the first two games of the upcoming NFL season. Rice and his wife would hold a press conference where they apologized for the incident. Rice stated that he had been receiving help with his issues and he and his wife were both receiving help to work on their marriage. The Baltimore Ravens organization said they would support Ray Rice in his efforts and stand behind him.

Meanwhile, Roger Goodell was receiving much criticism for only suspending Rice for two games, so he decided to change the league’s domestic violence policy where being found guilty one time would earn a six game suspension and the second offense where a player was found guilty would be an indefinite suspension. He did not change Rice’s punishment.

Also, meanwhile, San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald was accused of beating his pregnant wife. Jim Harbaugh, the brother of Ravens coach John Harbaugh, said if anyone was found guilty of domestic violence on his team, they would be kicked off the team.

Also, meanwhile, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was a repeat offender on violating the NFL’s drug policy by using marijuana, tested positive for a trace amount of marijuana that may only have been enough to have given him a contact high, meaning he may not have even used it but could have tested positive just because he was around it, and was suspended for the entire season. This prompted my brother, Matthew, a.k.a. StatMatt, to say that the NFL is a league “where you can hit Mary but not Mary Jane.” (Check out my brother’s blog¬†http://statmattsports.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2014-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2015-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=2.)

Let me preface everything I’m about to say by saying that unless Ray Rice has some sort of mental health issue or is making a real effort to fix himself I DO NOT FEEL SORRY FOR RAY RICE. I don’t feel like he got a whole lot more than he deserved. I am merely using him as an example. I do feel sorry for his family, however.

Then, Monday, TMZ came out with a video from inside the elevator of Ray Rice assaulting Janay. All of a sudden everything changes. The Ravens decide, you know what? You know how we said we supported you? Well, yeah…about that…even though the account you gave us is consistent with what happened in the new video (confirmed by Ed Werder of ESPN) and we knew what happened in the first place, we’re going to decide to cut you. And Goodell decided, yeah you know how I made that policy where I suspend you for 6 games for the first offense and then suspend you indefinitely? Well I’m just going to suspend you indefinitely and skip over that first step to make up for the bad PR i got for the 2 game suspension I gave you. And even though it’s against NFL Players Association rules to go back on a punishment and re-punish I know they won’t support you.

I’m not mad that Ray Rice was punished for his actions. I agree that the initial 2-game suspension was not severe enough. What I have a problem with is this phony bullshit attempt the NFL and the Ravens have made to act like they care about morality. If the Ravens really cared about morality, they would have either taken a greater action or cut Ray Rice before this video came out. They already knew what happened. This shouldn’t have changed anything. They said they supported him. Okay, well if you say you want to support him and his family and if you really want to help them, make him inactive for the rest of the season and force him to take the season off to focus on getting counseling and work on himself and his family issues. They didn’t get rid of him because they couldn’t tolerate what he did. They got rid of him because it was good for business. To the Ravens organization Ray Rice is not worthy of being treated like a human being. Even before this he wasn’t. And neither is his wife or his kid. The big wigs in the Ravens organization don’t give a damn about Ray Rice’s family. They could care less how many times Janay Rice gets the crap beaten out of her as long as Ray Rice racks up yards and scores touchdowns and their fans can look past it. They could care less about how many tears their infant daughter may have shed from the fights Mommy and Daddy have had if this was not an isolated incident (which in my personal opinion, judging by Rice’s lack of shock coming out of the elevator, I don’t think it was). And as soon as Ray Rice, their gladiator and pawn and commodity becomes bad for business, they discard him. Because the NFL and many of its team organizations think that it’s okay to not treat players like human beings as long as they throw millions of dollars at them.

I’m not saying this because I feel really sorry for Ray Rice though. I don’t feel all that sorry for him. I’m saying it to make a point: the NFL doesn’t care about its players. When the NFL started getting lawsuits from former players for concussion issues they were having, they put new rules and policies in place that would attempt to prevent concussions from happening in games. Concussions are inevitable in football. They are going to happen. The policies that need to be put in place are ones that focus on the treatment of concussions. But they let players who have concussions play the next week because they’re cleared by their team doctors. Yeah they’re not biased at all. Also, these rules to prevent concussions just so happen to make the game harder for defensive players, making NFL football a more offensive game. Gee, I wonder if that’s on purpose. Players are always going to want to play, so they are not always good judges on whether or not they should play when they get concussions, or even whether they should retire. There need to be rules in place that perhaps limit the amount of severe concussions you are allowed to have and be allowed to play in the NFL (there would be financial compensation, kind of like worker’s compensation), or maybe players shouldn’t be allowed to play the next game after they have a concussion no matter what. The NFL has not created an initiative to teach players and kids to tackle without leading with their heads. The only team that has adjusted their tackling this way is the Seattle Seahawks. The point is, the NFL is trying to avoid a lawsuit when it comes to its concussion policies, not protect its players. Wes Welker should not still be playing in the NFL. The NFL and its organizations do not care about their players. They don’t care about them as human beings.

Also, Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of rape twice, and one time he was not found guilty because when he went into the ladies room two security guards blocked people from entering and locked the door. Because there was no video footage though, he wasn’t found guilty. The NFL never mentioned this and doesn’t care. The NFL doesn’t care about morality.

This is the case with many big organizations and corporations. There is a terrible subculture in our society that just does not care about others. In this country we have lost all sense of communitarianism. We don’t recognize others’ humanity nor do we care about each other as human beings. We are selfish.

Thirteen years ago on this day terrorists attacked our country. In the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, many died and many survived. Many of the survivors will tell you stories of heroism that either they witnessed or they participated in that were perpetrated by both emergency services people and civilians alike. I have the utmost respect for the emergency services people such as firemen, medics, EMT’s, paramedics, and the police. But since they were doing their jobs and are brave every day, I’m going to focus on the people that did things that in our society are out of character: the civilians. There were stories of civilians going back up into the smoke and flames to help save people, many of them losing their lives in the process. People would stop and help people instead of just caring for their own lives and running out of the building. For these moments, people recognized each other’s humanity. They cared. They performed selfless acts. Why is it, then that it takes a time of crisis, tragedy, and danger for us to band together?

On that day, our country became totally united; we felt empathy for our fellow man. Why can’t we be this way more often? In one of my textbooks for one of my social work classes for school, it states that “Unless socialized out of us, most humans possess an ability to transcend our selfish tendencies and recognize that we are part of a larger community…and connect empathically with other members.” But it also concludes that “individually and collectively, many of us are becoming so self-oriented and self-centered that our empathic abilities are beginning to atrophy.” The book also states that “Considerable scholarship suggests that a key foundation for human morality involves this extraordinary capacity for empathy.” So why don’t we value it more? Why don’t we value caring for our fellow human beings? Why does it take the worst of times for us to do this? Because we worship the dollar. Money is our god. There’s a reason why children often seem to be more empathetic than adults. My textbook states, “Perhaps especially in social contexts that place great importance on the individual…empathic interest in the experiences of others is likely to diminish as children grow into adulthood…Indeed, greed and the accumulation and display of material wealth may be equated with goodness. The Latin phrase caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) captures an ethos in which benefitting oneself at the expense of another is viewed as legitimate and, indeed, desirable.” Children aren’t trying to earn money. Adults are. And understandably so; as an adult you have to support a family (if you choose to have one). There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to earn money. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be rich. But it’s when you start getting overly materialistic that you trade your recognition of humanity for money.

Humanity has a funny relationship with ourselves. We band together when we need to most, but otherwise we really don’t care for one another. Let’s not pretend to be moral; let’s actually be moral. Let’s not just recognize each other’s humanity in times of crisis, but at every moment of our lives.

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