April 14, 2011

Cosmopolitan

A couple days ago I made a satirical joke at the expense of the French government over their recently enacted ban on women wearing a burqa in public. It sparked an interesting debate on racism and cultural differences. I'll admit that getting on the French was at least a little bit hypocritical since I never really commented on the burning of the Quran by that crazy preacher in Florida. Both countries seem to have their share of racist demagogues, I imagine we even have more per capita.

After a bit of reflection I asked myself whether I had the right to criticize the French for their burqa ban when I live in a country that didn't really have any issues with jailing Muslims from foreign countries in secret prisons without any evidence and subjecting some of them to torture. Then I remembered one of my favorite quotes from H.L. Mencken:
"Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under."
I don't care where you live, if you aren't at least partially ashamed of your government than you are either not paying attention to what your government is doing or you are the supreme ruler of said government. Every government sets the rules for it's people and every citizen can think of at least one rule they don't agree with. If anything unites us, it is this: we all think the people in power make too many mistakes and we would all live in better countries if people just used a little common sense.

This train of thought has led me to a very cosmopolitan worldview. Definitely not because it's fashionable, either. As the world has shrunk, certain segments of our populations have tried to accentuate our differences in order to either gain, or retain, power. Whether it is Iranians declaring the United States the Great Satan or Americans condemning Muslims as enemies of liberty, someone is always trying to score points off of someone else. The reality is that none of us are really all that different. We all need to eat, sleep, shit and make the sweet, sweet love.

According to Google Analytics, I've had visitors to this blog from 67 different countries and I have probably read blogs from people in nearly half as many. Do you know what I've learned? For the most part we're all sick of dealing with bullshit. We try to do our best. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. It doesn't matter if you're from America or Algiers, you share more similarities than differences with everyone else in the world. My hope is that as the world continues to shrink we will begin to realize this more and more. Call me a foolish optimist if you like, but the evidence is right in front of you. You're literally staring into a window that lets you see the whole world, and for the most part, if you open your eyes you'll like who you see. Unless they have horrible grammar, then you should feel free to make snide remarks.
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Image taken from here: http://www.ecoglobe.ch/sustain/e/shri6n15.htm

11 comments:

  1. Excellent post. Really like the quote.

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  2. It's hard to make sure everything runs smoothly in a fair and even-handed manner, it's just a shame that the people who want to be in charge are always the ones who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a decision. Ho hum. Great post.
    cheers,
    mood
    Moody Writing

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  3. What a neat post! Looking forward for more post from you. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. Agree.

    sidenote: I wish we'd really change our name from The Unted States to "The Great SATAN" That would be like, way METAL!! \m/

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  5. Quite possible because of my culture *cough black cough* I generally don't let America get too big for its britches (I'm southern too) when it comes to racial mishaps in other countries.

    My husband tried to get snobby about what happened in France and I reminded him of the people in his grandparent's generation who used police dogs and fire hoses on my grandparents -- because they wanted to go to school. And many of those people are still very much alive today and living peacefully in America right now.

    We're all muddy from our country's dirty habits and every single one of us has done something hypocritical at some point.

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  6. I'm willing to die for my country, but a hop and skip over to my blog will tell anyone that I don't agree with at least 50% of the things that go on in this country... that's just how it's going to have to be. Critical thinkers are, by definition, critical, so I cannot imagine anyone just swallowing the kool-aid and going with the flow.

    People who aren't at least a little critical are probably sheep.

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  7. "Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under"...if this is true then I therefore conclude that I am a decent man. I am hoping that one day good leaders would outnumber the corrupt and power hungry crocodiles.

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  8. hmm, this post turned me on too. no, no, no, just kidding!

    i agree with you to an extent. but i'm always kind of shocked at how much intolerance there is in the world, so the cynic in me wants to say there is no way we'll ever get to the point where we, the people of the earth, can appreciate we are all more alike than different. but i don't let the cynic speak for me too much.

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  9. I found the following line written down in my scratch notebook/idea pad:

    "I don't care what country you live in, if you DON'T have a love/hate relationship with its people and its government, you're not paying attention. That goes either way: It should never be all love or all hate."

    I don't think I've seen the Mencken quote before, but it is definitely more succinct than mine...

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  10. I'm not necessarily ashamed of the government, but I do believe they're all Snidley Whiplash-esque in their evilness. Does that make me a decent person, or a crazy one?

    "Unless they have horrible grammar, then you should feel free to make snide remarks." Glorious!

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  11. The wars and rhetoric come from the government level. The common citizen of every country is usually just trying to make a living and get through the day.

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