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Selling a Vision of Hope: A Refreshing Alternative to Armageddon

Look inside Nissim Dahan's book Selling a Vision of Hope with Google Books.

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Up to 500 feared dead in Mediterranean shipwreck last week

Up to 500 feared dead in Mediterranean shipwreck last week
As many as 500 people are feared dead after a shipwreck last week in the Mediterranean Sea, two international groups said Wednesday, describing survivors? accounts of panicked passengers who desperately tried to stay afloat by jumping between vessels. The disaster happened in waters between Italy and Libya, based on accounts from 41 survivors who were rescued Saturday by a merchant ship, according to the U.N refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration. The tragedy ranks among the deadliest in recent years on the often-treacherous sea voyage along the central Mediterranean by refugees and migrants from Africa, the Middle East and beyond who have traveled in droves hoping to reach relatively peaceful and wealthy Europe.

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Vision of Hope
file under: from hate to hopeeducationeconomic developmentcommon sense 23 Feb 2008 12:38 PM
Where is the Honor in Honor Killing? Posted by Nissim Dahan
Every once in a while we hear of an "honor killing" carried out by a family member against one of their own. A recent article about an Iranian father who stoned his daughter to death, for bringing "dishonor" to him and to his family, is a case in point. The girl may, or may not, have consorted with a man without the father's approval, but he took it upon himself to restore his "honor" in the cruelest way possible, by taking the life of his own flesh and blood.

 

How is it that people come to believe in such things? And the Muslim world is not the only place where such thinking abounds. You could be riding a subway or a bus in a modern American city, and you make the mistake of looking at a young man in the wrong way. He pulls out a gun and shoots you in the head for "disrespecting" him, simply by looking at him in a way that, in his mind, demeaned his sense of "honor."

 

A lot of times you see this kind of thinking among the poor and among the uneducated, but not always. If you are poor and uneducated, and if the weight of a hard life weighs heavily down upon you, then you man find yourself grasping at straws trying to reclaim a sense of honor and a sense of dignity. When you have nothing in your life that gives you dignity, or respect, you may end up looking for it in the strangest places: by stoning your daughter, or by shooting a fellow traveler for looking at you the wrong way.

 

What can I say? We have come to believe in a lot of stupid things. Why? Because many of us have no other reference point, and because sometimes it's just easier to accept what we are told is right, instead of thinking it out for ourselves. But if we think things out before acting out, we may think twice about acting out in the wrong way, and against our own best interest.

 

Common sense would suggest that there is no honor in killing. Honor is not bestowed on us as a matter of right, but is earned by each of us with the good things we do for one another. We are not entitled to honor. We earn it as we go. Common sense would also suggest that we were put on this good earth to live; not to kill, and not to die, before our time.

 

But poverty and ignorance do play a part, as many of you rightly point out. They make it more possible for stupid thinking to grab hold. If a father, for example, has a decent job, and a decent education, and is able to provide adequately for his family, then chances are good that he will find his sense of honor in the good things he has, and does, without resorting to the perverse notion of "honor killing," as a source of honor. If his daughter goes astray, he will find the strength, within himself, to set her straight with love and understanding, because his life gives him the self-respect he needs to respect others. But if that same father is left poor, and ignorant, he will find it difficult to respect others, even his own family, when he has no respect for himself.

 

People the world over will have to begin rethinking some of their deeply held beliefs, so that a semblance of order  has a chance to emerge. We will need a new framework for rational thought based on universal notions of common sense-the collective wisdom borne of shared experience. We will also need to invest in one another, as many of you so rightly point out, so that the moderating influence of education and prosperity could begin to neutralize the influence of extremist thinking. Ideology plus Investment equals Hope, and with hope, all things are possible, even the kindness that we owe it to ourselves, to show one another.

Comments (4)Add Comment
Islam has no concept of Honor
written by Tonto, March 02, 2008
After reading many articles on islam and muhammad, I've concluded that neither has ever had a concept of Honor compatible with civilized society. An event occured recently in Knoxville which I see as honorable. A rapist attacked two young ladies. He tied up a 14 year old and was attacking a 20 year old. While he was attacking her, the 14 year old got loose and ran next door and got help from her cousin, who armed himself, ran next door and shot the rapist as he tried to attack the young man and leave. Now THAT is an Honor killing! In is-lame, the girls would have been beaten for consorting with a non-family man! Idiocy!! Is-lame is idiocy! How does one counteract that attitude?
What is Honor?
written by Nissim Dahan, March 03, 2008
Tonto, I'm not sure that you can say that Islam has no concept of honor. They certainly have an idea of what they consider as honorable. And I bet that you would probably go along with what the majority of Muslims think is honorable.

The trouble is that one man's honor is another man's lunacy. The concept of honor is broad and wide. Sometimes we broaden the idea of honor to include things which at first glance don't seem that honorable. For example, if a mother encourages her son to become a suicide bomber, is that honorable? Some would say yes. They would consider it a self-less act in defense of Islam. But most of us could not imagine intentionally sending our children to become martyrs. But then again, we do send our children to war. Is there that much of a difference there? Who's to say?

Looking at the sad state of affairs that we've created for ourselves as a species, I, for one, do not place a lot of emphasis on the notion of honor, especially when it means killing. The expample you gave, of the rapist, is an example of self-defense, and the defense of others. Violence is appropriate there. But when we kill, even in self-defense, while it may be necessary, I'm not sure it brings us honor. It is something we may have to do, but killing can never really be honorable, to the full extent of the word.

For me, the ultimate version of honor is for us to find a way to get over ourselves, and beyond our differences, in the illusive search for peace, for justice, and for a more sustainable environment. If we could do that, we would truly bring honor to oursleves.
What is honor?
written by Tonto, March 04, 2008
I certainly must agree that every culture has a certain concept of what honor may be in that society, for that society. I'm sure there are areas of crossover concepts..absolutely. After all, we are all human beings and some values are almost universal. Most times though, the idea of "what is honor" implies or outrightly denies certain practices which the islamidingbat world considers commom. These practices were taught by the so-called prophet of islam who was a pervert and predator of the first order. Since no one in islamic society (and even from outside) is allowed to question the "prophet" (who actually prophesized nothing) under pain of death, these perversions of humanity we see in islamic society have become commonplace. So no, I still must insist that most "good muslims" have no idea what real honor means. At least as I do.
Humility does have it's place in an honor system. After all, honor is just a value system that guides us in our actions....it should be an ongoing effort that one is so practiced in that thought isn't even required. Humility keeps one honest with oneself.
Honor and humility are taught in a society, it's absorbed by observing the values around one. The autocracy, political mercilessness and stagnation of islamic societies are a self perpetuating formula for universal misery and hopelessness for anything other than a "good death" followed by "Paradise". Those people are pitiful and their honor values suck.
Our Thinking is Off
written by Nissim Dahan, March 05, 2008
Tonto, I wouldn't disagree with you that there is some ideological thinking in the Muslim world that is off. Ideas like "honor killing," or "violent Jihad," or "72 virgins," etc., don't make a lot of sense. It's true.

But to be quite honest, couldn't it also be said that a lot of Western thinking is off as well? For example, if it is true that global waming is occuring as a result of CO2 emissions, then isn't it stupid to continue believing that we must burn fossil fuels to run our economies. And isn't it also true that a miscalculation on that front is far more dangerous to our species than Honor Killing?

The truth is that we are all subject to wrong-headed thinking. And the answer may well be that we must find a way to let go of some of our deeply held beliefs in favor of what makes sense. It is time, before time runs out, to forget what we want to believe, and to believe instead in what we know to be true, in what is logical, in what is self-evident. The time is ripe for An Ideology of Common Sense.

As part of Common Sense, people the world over can easily come to embrace a true notion of honor, and in that way, allow themselves to build bridges instead of walls.
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