Feb 5, 2006
Peace and Tolerance
Going to have a little paddle in the darker side of our world today as a way of addressing the simple pleasures of Peace, Tolerance and Freedom.
This whole row over the cartoons of Muhammad published the other day in Denmark - here's exploring a few points...
Objecting Muslims cite the ban on the graven image in their religion. The cartoonists weren't Muslims so that doesn't really apply. As it happens both Judaism and Christianity have similar restrictions on the graven image enshrined in the (from memory) second Commandment but these religions over the years have somehow been able to distinguish between an idol and Picasso's Guernica.
You only need go to Leighton House in London to see how Muslims have an admirable history of flouting this ban to the benefit of Art. The beautiful Islamic tiles collected by Frederic, Lord Leighton include images of birds - however, you can trace in the glaze cuts across the birds' throats which apparently get one round the graven image restriction. Jewish artists have taken a similar approach, for example, at Bet Alpha synagogue where mosaic images of the animals and figures of the signs of the zodiac adorn the floor - but that's okay apparently because we walk on them.
Now how about the offence caused by the images. A cartoonist dared to make an association between Muhammad and bombs - can't think where he got that from? I guess this is about thinness of skin. Islam seems to have a very thin skin. It's terribly easily offended. Perhaps a sign of lack of confidence. Most other religions seem to be able to take it on the chin, a bit of satire or even, heaven forfend, criticism.
Why on earth aren't the Christians up in arms about this portrayal of God?
Or thinking more in terms of prophets, why aren't they kicking up a stink about this portrayal of Jesus
or this one
or even this one?
And why aren't those serene Buddhists going bonkers over this cartoon of Buddha?
Meanwhile the Jews seem to be taking it on the chin day after day as Palestinian, Arabic and Muslim newspapers publish anti-semitic cartoons worthy of Der Sturmer and the Nazis.
So in an ideal world we'd all spend a bit more time thinking about what God, Muhammad, Jesus and Buddha actually care about. Do they care if mere mortals draw funny (or not so funny) pictures of them? Do they want us to threaten (or carry out) "beheading" and "massacring" as suggested by the placards we've seen on the streets of my beloved London this week? Or do they want us to love one another and treat others as we'd want to be treated ourselves? Perhaps it's time to stop looking ridiculous waving our swords and scimitars in the air and start behaving like loving human beings...