... before I go back to schlepping.
I believe President Bush spoke wisely when he said of the War on Terror, "This is not a war against a religion." In a December 3, 2003 post, Ali at Iraq the Model wrote: 'I think that the governments can not create criminals or saints, but a wise one makes it easier for the good ones to use their free will as it makes it harder for the bad ones to use theirs. And the opposite applies for the bad government; it just acts as a catalyst to the potentialities within each human soul.' I believe this applies to religions as well. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are what their adherents make of them. A religious teaching provides the framework to strengthen and ennoble the human soul, but it is up to people to use their free will to build on that framework in a positive way. There is, in Irshad Manji's words, a "trouble with Islam"; and as a Muslim acquaintance of mine recently said, "No religion today is more sick than Islam." But it doesn't have to be that way. This is why you'll never find sarcastic comments about "the religion of peace" or "72 virgins" on this site.
I really do believe in all that good liberal stuff about "understanding other people/cultures/religions". At the same time, everything in the world doesn't reduce to this. You need to "understand" bin Laden, Arafat, and Saddam only well enough to know that they are trying to destroy you. It's important to know how to "win friends and influence people", but there are some folks in the world who are immune to the Dale Carnegie treatment. They will continue killing innocent people, and they will not stop no matter how nicely you ask.
Understanding other people means relating to others as people, not as "strange objects on a laboratory slide". And it applies equally to everyone, regardless of religion, politics, ethnicity, or social class. It's a strange kind of "liberalism" that can be more "open-minded" about fascist terrorists than about conservative Americans. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I'll post again when I get the chance. Meanwhile, as always, thanks for reading my blog - drop me a comment sometime.