So I came across something on my facebook newsfeed today that has disturbed me enough to want to say something. Albeit not directly because I am a coward but still getting my point across on some level.
Praise for Mohamed Bouazizi setting fire to himself. [For those of you who have been buried under a rock for the last few months, he was the Tunisian man who set fire to himself because he felt humiliated by a female municipal worker and two of her lackeys when they took away his cart of produce and beat him up for not having a license - not the detailed version but you can go look it up if you're interested]
He started protests all over the region and created change [Mubaruk has also just stepped down in Eygpt]. But the reason he did it was because he felt humiliated by a female municipal officer. Now bear in mind that regardless of her gender I don't think what she did is right and it is a sign of a corrupt government that she could get away with it. However. There is the implication that had it been a male he would have begrudgingly carried on with his day.
Alright, so I'm paraphrasing. But it worries me that people I once knew to be all for the benefits of religion are now praising people for being brave enough to die for what they believe in. What they believe in partially being that women have no right to behave in certain ways. I reiterate that I think what the woman did was wrong. Maybe it's my own beliefs that I'm beginning to question. After all these are people I believed to be moderate in their views who seem to be becoming more and more involved in their religious practices. Which in theory is no bad thing except for the exclusion of every cultural norm of the societies in which they inhabit. Including referring to the place they were born and have spent their whole lives as 'the west' and not even in a geographical truth kinda way. 'The people in the west would just sit back and watch while people took away their freedoms; they wouldn't know how to fight...they wouldn't die for what they believe in'. Maybe they wouldn't but if they did I'd hope it was out of true dissatisfaction with that way our country is being run and not due to their pride being hurt. Maybe it makes me bitter because it was a woman who said it and we women have fought for our rights for so long that it hurts to just see the thought processes behind behaviour like this justified and all our rights handed away like they mean nothing.
This probably boils down to something rather ethical. Being brave enough to fight and die for what you believe in? Not necessarily a bad thing. Shows strength of character and honour etc. To die because your pride was hurt? Well it's not really a sign of being a martyr is it? 'A woman beat and abused me in front of many people...I cannot live with the embarrassment'. The cultures are very different I know, but still. If he'd done it to make a point about the political situation in the country...because ultimately his actions did lead to a lot of change. After the initial uproar and deaths. But he's being seen as a martyr and I won't abuse his memory after all what grudge can I truly hold against a dead man?
I have always thought of religion as a good thing because it gives lots of people hope and guidance and makes sense of a world that is pretty difficult to understand. I am friends with people of every race and creed and I like to think I am unbiased. All religion is good until it warps people into believing they are in some way better and more deserving because they believe what they do. Reading back through, I'm sure to some I will come across as some closet BNP supporter but that is the last thing I am. Fair dues to what the girl was maybe getting at. Our political system is just as corrupt as any other, they've just learnt to cover it up better. And we do need change but people having to die in order for us to get it is no great achievement. Not if you think every life is equally valuable.