By Pamela K. Taylor
I bring you a story of arrogance and sin:
Lord said to the angels, ‘Behold, I am about to create a human being out of
clay! And when I have shaped him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then bow
down before him in prostration.’ The
angels all bowed down together, but not Iblis, who gloried in his arrogance,
and thus became a rebel.
said, ‘Iblis, what prevents you from bowing down to that which I have made with
My own hands? Are you too proud or are you one of the high and mighty?’
said, ‘I am better than him: You made me from fire, and him You made from
God said ‘Get out of here! You are rejected: My rejection will follow you till
the Day of Judgement!’
Iblis said, ‘My Lord, grant me respite until the Day when they are raised from
said, ‘You have respite till the Appointed Day.’
said, ‘I swear by Your might!I will beguile them all into grievous error, all
but Your faithful servants.’
(Quran, chapter 38 verses 71-83)
around the world, I can testify Iblis has lived up to his word. And, oh boy,
have we drunk the kool-aid. Far too many of us think we’re better than everyone
subculture can kick your subculture's ass anytime 24/7Our President who
believes half the world lives in “shithole countries.” The fanatics of ISIS who
think they are fighting the final battle between good and evil (with the good
obviously being them). White people who disparage blacks, and people of color
who demonize whites. Conservatives and liberals who hold each other in
contempt, and progressives who despise both. Cis-heterosexuals who think
they’re more normal than anyone in the lgbt community, and gays and lesbians
who think they’re more natural than transsexuals. The 1% who clearly think
they’re more deserving of wealth and happiness than poor folks and the middle
class. Kings and Presidents, Senators and Congressmen, Lawmakers thinking they
are more important than the people they are supposed to represent. Men vs
Women. East vs West. Christian vs Muslim vs Hindu vs Sikh vs Jew vs Atheist.
worse, I see far too many justifying their prejudices rather working to
eradicate them. “I’m rich because I worked hard to get where I am,” as though
poor people aren’t hard working too. “It
was American determination and spirit that built this country,” as though
America wasn’t also built on the seizure of native american lands, slavery, and
the exclusion of women from those ideals. “Only religious people can be truly
moral,” or worse, only those who believe in Jesus or follow Muhammad, even
though it’s amply evident that all sorts of people can and have acted morally.
Not to mention the multitude of believers who have acted immorally.
in the form of “I’m better than they are, I deserve more,” is the root of so
many evils in the world.
all beguiled by how wonderful we are, how smart, how beautiful, how advanced,
and how superior. And conversely, we’re appalled at how dumb, misguided, and
downright evil those we differ from are.
to be clear, I’m not exempting myself in this critique of the modern psyche.
I’m often beguiled by myself, my politics, my religion, my country and
especially my morality. Even though I believe firmly that all humankind is
equally deserving of life, liberty, freedom of conscience, and the opportunity
and means to pursue happiness, it is all too easy for me to dismiss some people
as less, whether that be ultra-conservative and radical Muslims, or the people
who inexplicably voted for Trump against their own self-interest.
all our prejudices against one another, I think most of us would agree we would
be better off if we were less divided and jumped to fewer negative conclusions
about others. Our country – our world! – would be a happier, more friendly,
more enjoyable place if we could only we were more empathetic, kind, and
compassionate with one another.
Qur’an offers us a way forward, telling us, “Good and evil cannot be equal.
Repel evil with what is better and your enemy will become as close as an old
and valued friend, (Quran 41:35).
applies equally whether the enemy is someone out there, or the niggling little
voice that tempts you to be less than you know you should be. Implementing this
wisdom is an ongoing battle. For me personally, I find I need to remind myself
regularly that I am not more worthy of success, love, or freedom, than those
whose opinions I find so distasteful. I need to pause and truly listen when
people point out my shortcomings. And I need to shut down the voice of fear
when others promote points of view or solutions to the problems of my
neighborhood, state, country and world that seem to devalue me and threaten my
place in the world.