Some time last week, a pastor of a tiny congregation in Florida burned a copy of the Koran after a mock trial. The Afghan government picked up the story and condemned the action, which sparked outrage among some of its citizens and led to the deaths of 12 UN workers in Mazar-i-Sharif. When told of the outcome, the pastor said “We don’t feel responsible for that.”
He also added that both the United States and the United Nations should take action, saying “the time has come to hold Islam accountable”.
It always boggles my mind how people can simultaneously deny that their actions have any effect while accusing others that their own words and deeds carry consequences. One of the first rules children learn is to be aware of others via the Golden Rule of “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” This theme shows up in literature, movies, pop culture, social manners guides and ‘nettiquette blogs yet somehow, once we reach the magical age of majority, this gets thrown out the window. It’s like there’s a switch in our brains that allows us to suddenly assume that it’s okay to go through life thinking everyone’s an idiot, has no attention span, can’t behave well and as such, frees us from interacting on the same plane as them. We then can say that we’re not responsible but others–because of their aforementioned “differences”–are, without any feelings of guilt or responsibility.
Oddly enough, we still remember to teach our 5 year old that they “can’t hit” or “call their sister ‘stupid’ “–even though the first Amendment, one could argue, might permit name calling (until, of course, such language became classified as “hate speech”). So, somewhere, deep inside us, we do acknowledge that our actions can and do have consequences–and that those consequences can sometimes be far greater than what we ever may have imagined.
Everyone has a theory as to why we behave so schizophrenically but instead of getting bogged down in the details, I challenge you (and me) to not only recognize such behavior, but really to move away from it in our lives. If we keep arguing over who said what when, let’s instead figure out what you’re going to do now. So instead of writing a tirade about what I actually think of Pastor Jones, his theology, and his actions, I’m going to remind myself of how small the world is–and how interconnected we all are.