Friday, April 17, 2009

Crucial Conversations

Last night I participated in an interfaith dialog. It was an interesting experience. The group that organized the dialog insisted that my dialog partner and I have a meal together first. So like a week ago the organizer, my dialog partner, and I went to breakfast together. My dialog partner’s name is Humza. I had never met him and was excited to meet him; he is Muslim and I didn’t know anyone who was before I had met him.

The breakfast was cool. We all got along just fine. We agreed to the topics that we would discuss later. We agreed to talk about our different beliefs in the afterlife, how our beliefs were shaped, how society sees us, and things like that. We couldn’t do it that day; the organizer couldn’t get all of his camera equipment ready till later in the week.

When we met last night I discovered that we had quite a few differences in opinion, but we were able to find a lot of common ground. Islam is quite the polar opposite of Atheism. Humza is a cool guy. Something that we agreed on was that no matter how we believe and no matter how others believe we still have to live with people who don’t believe the same as us. We can ether fight them about their beliefs or you can just learn to accept their beliefs.

He and I really disagreed when it came to thoughts about the afterlife. Islam has a significantly different idea of heaven than I thought. He told me that after we die, Muslims believe that our body tells Allah about our sins. We don’t speak with our mouths, but things like our feet and hands speak to god and tell him about our sins. As an Atheist, I don’t believe that anything happens after we die. I believe that the rewards that we should receive for the good that we do in this world, come to us in this world. Seeing as this is the only chance that we get to live our life.

I really enjoyed the dialog. I found things out about my ideology. There was one question about the difference between speaking with someone to understand their faith and speaking with someone to convert them to your faith. We both agreed that when trying to learn about another’s faith, religion, or ideology you can’t have the end goal as a conversion. You must be able to have an open mind.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Come On Man, Not Funny

I have always thought that if something was done in good fun, there really is no way that people can take something offensive. But after the group presentation today, I really see jokes really aren’t funny all the time.

The jokes about women were really offensive. They were very juvenile. I know that I would have found them funny if I was still ten years old, but now, they are rude and inappropriate.

The thing that I found the most profound was that people in the UK are discriminated against because they are light skinned, red haired, and have freckles. I had no clue that this kid of discrimination occurred in the world. I have always thought that white persons were excluded from discrimination, at least on the base of their skin color. I mean while people discriminate against other races and even their own when it comes to political affiliation, religious views, and the like. But this is all new to me.

I don’t really get the “ginger” discrimination. I find red headed women to be very attractive. I don’t get it.

It must be that this type of discrimination is specific to the United Kingdom. I won’t deny that it may exist in the United States, but if it does, then it is not as pronounced as other types of discrimination.

The only thing that I could find about “ginger” discrimination here in the US was a South Park episode. Where Cartman wanted to unite the gingers and kill all the “normal” people. I don’t watch the show, so I don’t know what the episode really entails. There was no description.

But does humor really break down barriers to discrimination? Dave Chapell refused to continue his show on comedy central because he thought that he was just reinforcing negative stereotypes of the black community. I don’t have the answers.