Ahmed H. Sharif, a NYC cabbie, was attacked by a passenger who slashed his face and neck after asking him if he was Muslim and he replied in the affirmative. Once again, intolerance has reared its ugly head. This time, apparently, it is religious intolerance.
If you have been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m no fan of religion. I believe that religion is harmful, breeds intolerance and hatred, and oppresses women and those who do believe as they do.
I also, however, believe that people have a right to believe and worship as they choose (or to chose not to believe or worship at all), as long as they don’t use their belief to try to harm or oppress others. Its basically and live-and-let-live thing.
There are basic human rights that we all have and freedom of thought and belief are one of the most personal and integral to our sense of self and wellbeing. It is this freedom, along with many others, that I, as a humanist, feel I must respect and fight for.
How do I fight for it? Well, first of all, I write this blog. Getting the message out there is the first step in educating people about these things.
I also support many organizations like The Freedom From Religion Foundation, Non-Believers Giving Aid, Doctors Without Borders, and others with what money I can donate and with my time in any local activities they sponsor.
But I do more that just this. I talk to people. I express my belief in our basic human rights whenever a story like Mr. Sharif’s comes up. Some people don’t agree with me, so do. Some, however, never gave it much thought and I can see the realization in their faces when they listen to my arguments supporting Mr. Sharif’s right to be a Muslim. I can tell that, perhaps thought I didn’t change their mind, I did give them something to think about.
This is the message I want to send to you today. Don’t just sit back and let these kinds of incidents go by without doing something, writing something or saying something to someone about them. You don’t have to get all up in people’s faces or climb up on a soap box and shout it out (but please feel free to do so if you choose). If you hear these things mentioned in conversation, put your two cents worth in. Bring it up yourself if no one is talking about it. Just a, “Hey, did you hear about…?” will suffice to get the conversation going.
Issues like religions freedom, or as I prefer to call it, freedom of conscience, along with freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of choice (to chose what happens to your body, to choose who to marry, etc), the right to health care, the right to shelter and food, and many more, are all things that we, as humans, have in common.
To sit back and let an injustice go by ignored and unanswered is perhaps one of the greatest evils that we, as humans face. It is more so our indifference, rather than our cruelty, that causes the greater harm.