It happened in history class. Heraa Hashmi, a 19-year-old American Muslim student at the University of Colorado, was supposed to be discussing the Crusades with the man sitting next to her. Within a few minutes, however, he was crusading against Islam.
“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims,” Hashmi’s classmate told her. What’s more, he complained, not enough Muslims were making a stand against terrorism.
Hashmi was perplexed by this analysis. Muslims are constantly denouncing atrocities that have been committed in the name of Islam. Yet many people seem to think Muslims don’t condemn terrorism enough. So Hashmi decided to put the notion to the test. Using Google spreadsheets, she made a “712-page list of Muslims condemning things with sources”, which she tweeted. The list includes everything from acts of domestic violence to 9/11.
“I think we should take a step back and ask a different question, which is: ‘Is it justified to demand that Muslims condemn terrorism?’ Now that might sound a little radical even asking it. The reason I say that is this.
“Condoning the killing of civilians is, to me, about the most monstrous thing you can to do. And to be suspected of doing something so monstrous, simply because of your faith, seems very unfair.
“Now when you look at the majority of terrorist attacks in the United States, according to the FBI, the majority of domestic terror attacks are actually committed by white, male Christians.
“Now that’s just the facts. When those things occur, we don’t suspect other people who share their faith and ethnicity of condoning them. We assume that these things outrage them just as much as they do anyone else. And we have to afford this same assumption of innocence to Muslims.”
Viewed objectively, enemies can only be of two kinds:
Either they are intrinsically hostile, in which case to resent their behavior is as absurd as to resent fire for being hot; or they are fundamentally well disposed but have momentarily succumbed to a crisis of defilement. Here, too, animosity is out of place: it is as foolish as resenting the sky when it is filled with smoke.
Besides, when someone hits me with a stick, I am not angry with the stick, but with the person beating me. By the same token, it is illogical for me to hate my enemies. They may wield their weapons, but they themselves are in the grip of their defilements.
It is therefore the emotion, of which they are the victim, that I should resent.
- Shantideva in ‘The Way of the Bodhisattva’
Some intuitions, however, resist being shifted. Among these is our conviction that there are only two states of being: awake or asleep, conscious or unconscious, alive or dead, soulful or material. Dennett believes that there is a spectrum, and that we can train ourselves to find the idea of that spectrum intuitive.
- taken from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/27/daniel-dennetts-science-of-the-soul
How much of a table should we cut away before it isn’t a table anymore?
When a consultant proposes a remedy and predicts – ‘it gets worse before it gets better’ – the consultant would win both ways.
If it gets worse, his prediction is right.
If it gets better, his remedy is right.
Every day, shortly before nine o’clock, a man with a red hat stands in a square and begins to wave his cap around wildly. After five minutes he disappears.
One day, a policeman comes up to him and asks: “What are you doing?”
“I’m keeping the giraffes away.”
“But there aren’t any giraffes here.”
“Well, I must be doing a good job then.”
– taken from Rolf Dobelli’s book ‘The art of thinking clearly’
There once was a man called Zhang San. He was happy that he managed to earn 300 taels of silver after much hardwork but he kept worrying someone would steal them. So he found a box to keep the silver and buried them in the ground behind his house.
Still he worried that someone would find out and dig out the box, so he thought up a clever plan. He wrote on a piece of paper – “There’s no 300 taels of silver in this piece of land” – and pasted the paper on the back wall before leaving.
Unknown to him, his actions were seen by his neighbour, Wang Er. Later that night, Wang Er dug up the box and stole the 300 taels of silver. In order not to arouse Zhang San’s suspicion, he wrote on a piece of paper – “Your neighbour Wang Er did not steal” – and pasted it on the wall.
The next day, Zhang San woke up and went behind his house to check on the silver, only to find them missing. Then he saw the note on the wall and was greatly enlightened.
Contentment with the level of our unhappiness is also happiness.