By Tony Andrews
First, I’d like to clearly state the obvious, that I’m no expert in this or any other field … unless opening tins with that little triangular blade on a Swiss Army knife counts as expertise.
I’m pretty good at that.
Islamic terrorism, in my opinion, is less a problem of religious fundamentalism than it is a fear of the inevitable decline of male dominated society and an overreaction to its effect on the world by everyone, whichever side of the debate we are on …
The last gasp of a dying male chauvinist world.
Unfortunately, our perspective on this and many other issues, is blinded because most humans are adversarial by nature …
“You’re either with us or against us.”
Why are there only two sides in a debate?
We are always on one side or the other, we dismiss or deride those that would rather see things from both sides and put forward solutions based on compromise, we so rarely hear from them that it’s almost as if they don’t exist.
We call them names like “fence sitters” and assume that they are undecided or uninformed, that their thoughts are not worth listening to.
Well, we would ignore them, if we ever got to hear their opinions, we don’t though, because that’s not how the world works.
The biggest issue and, I believe, the most damaging, that pervades all aspects of our societies, is that we appear to have no neutrals, only those for or against.
Even in sport that is not one side against the other, sports with multiple competitors, we still naturally pick a favourite and cheer them on, also mentally picking out someone we hope loses.
The rest, well, we don’t really even notice them … unless they do something dramatic.
Almost everyone is, by nature, an “extremist”.
Without trying to oversimplify a complex issue, personally, I think that we’re so focused on the religious aspect of Islamic terrorism that we can’t see the forest for the trees …
It’s my belief that we don’t really need to fear terrorism so personally or spend so many billions of taxpayer funded dollars to radically change our laws and society in order to protect us from harm, it’s a temporary situation and, although I’m not suggesting we should just ignore it either, what we should all really fear …
Our tendency to overreact, sometimes violently, to situations and information we don’t really understand.
Our tendency to rely on our emotions, instead of our intellect, focusing on blame and ignoring solutions or examples that don’t fit with our preconceived ideas.
Our tendency to not really think things through before reaching conclusions and deciding on a course of action.
Unfortunately, our judgement in most situations where the answer isn’t obvious is often influenced by what we think we know and generalisations about the things we don’t.
Our fear in the case of terrorism is harm to ourselves or our property from people that, we believe, hate us and our “way of life”.
Some of them do, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s not our big screen TVs, our cars, weapons or our other technological and industrial achievements that they despise, they need these things to wage the “jihad” just as much as we do to fight against it, what they really fear, is redundancy.
Women worldwide are finally being educated at similar levels to men and this has brought with it many changes to our societies. Has there ever been a female dominated society in history? I can’t even think of one where women were on an equal footing with men … the Celts maybe … or was it the Picts?
The women will change the men that wish to remain in the past, no one else.
Some will also, and have already, joined the men in their battle against change.
That choice, somewhat ironically, is theirs.
No one is forcing them to fight, they have made the decision themselves.
Muslim women have dreams and minds that work in the same chemical/electrical ways as other women, right?
That’s not to say that all women are the same, but their similarities and differences are not so easily controlled anymore by men, religion or ethnic heritage, they are as individual in thought as anyone else.
And they will change the future …
For Muslim women, in some cases quite recently educated and informed, their influence will force their men to share and plan their futures together or they won’t marry them. It’s simple. It just takes time.
For the Muslims we call “moderates”, it’s already happened.
We ignore them though, the hundreds of millions of them, and assume they are just “fence sitters” waiting for the global caliphate.
(Who knows, maybe they are, we are all generally “extremists” in one form or another, even if we don’t acknowledge it, and the non-Muslims remain suspicious of them all … just in case).
When I say; “it’s simple”, I actually mean that it’s complicated, but we, as humans, generally reject complicated notions.
We have no desire to absorb more than a basic understanding of anything not directly related to our employment or hobbies, but that doesn’t stop us from having passionate opinions about other things as well.
Also, we all tend to reminisce a bit too fondly over times that have passed.
The people of the oil rich countries in the Middle East have gone, in only two or three generations, from being poor and illiterate to healthy and educated, enjoying individual, as well as national prosperity, but this has bought massive changes, psychologically, with it.
There are still members of these communities and families, the “patriarchs”, that have been alive since before these changes occurred and are still living, these men have great influence on their far better educated descendants;
“When I was younger I’d have beaten my wife with a stick if she’d spoken to me as you allow your wife to speak to you …”
“Why are you cooking and washing the clothes?”
“That’s woman’s work. How can you call yourself a man?”
“Your woman should not display herself in public without protection from the lustful gaze of other men … she needs to be covered from head to toe.”
If someone were to claim that our Australian “beach culture” hadn’t progressed, that it was still as Kathy Lette described in her novel Puberty blues, the men surfing, while the girls sat idle watching them, gossiping, and fetching the odd Chiko roll, today’s women would laugh at you …
With good reason.
Can we still believe that women beyond the black stump are still confined to the house, preparing roast lamb dinners and baking sponge cakes memorised from CWA recipe books, while the menfolk drive the tractors and harvesters. Muster the sheep and cattle?
Not on your life.
Muslim women are no different, and the modern Muslim man knows it… subconsciously, at least.
Do we in our country, with all the mod cons, really believe that the women in less affluent societies enjoy washing clothes in shit filled rivers and beating them against rocks everyday?
That they don’t dream of washing machines and a constant source of electrical power.
Maybe even men to load the machine and dry the laundry while they go out to work or enjoy a coffee with their friends.
They dream of indoor plumbing and underground sewage systems, imagining a time their rivers will be clean and shit free.
The often-heard statements like, “they can’t live like us, they are not like us”, are rubbish …
Many of them are already.
Worldwide, there’s little difference now between the education level of men and women. A statistic I read recently was that, globally, the average amount of education attained by 30-year-old men is 10 years. For women, it’s 9 years.
We tend to think of the different pay rates between equally qualified and skilled men and women in our society as the benchmark of inequality between the sexes, but globally, the world is balancing itself.
Real progress has been achieved in a relatively short time frame and it isn’t going to stop.
Of course, the countries with an Islamic tradition are not the only ones in which the men feel confused and uneasy about their future role in society.
Ask Tony Abbott or Cory Bernadi.