Phoenix out of fundamentalism


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Category: International Date: 21 Oct 01

The Phoenix has arisen out of the ashes of the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon from the fuselage of four planes.


It has been smoldering for decades beneath many wars, religious dogma and acts of terrorism. It has choked on the smoke of American gunpowder in Iraq, been pulverised in Vietnam, drowned in the eyes of terrorised Northern Irish children, crushed behind enforced veils that stunt women’s spirits and minds in Islamic countries, and deprive them of basic human rights.


It has arisen out of indifference and contempt of the middle classes everywhere, to children dying of malnutrition and dark, poor people of warm climates who seek refuge from wars not of their own making. It has arisen out of dogma and ignorance, and inequitable division of the world’s resources.


There have been many calamities in our lifetime. This was different, which is why the Phoenix rose from it; potent, because it happened out of the blue, on live televisions, and entered our homes. Powerful, because it struck dead innocent people of all nationalities. Destructive at a global level, because it struck the heart of human activity and interconnection: business and commerce. Shocking, because it reduced what appeared to be an indestructible building in the most powerful country in the world into powder.


The Phoenix is not black, white, yellow or any colour of the rainbow. It is an ordinary watery shade of grey. But exquisite because it has the ability to mutate into endless shades of grey.


The Phoenix is telling us to open our third eye and observe the world with a penetrating intensity: to acknowledge the veins connecting all peoples are intricate, deep and far-reaching, which is why the entire world, from Russia and China, from Europe to the Middle East, from India to Pakistan, rocked with the convulsion of the terrorist attack in America.


It is saying there can be no insularity anymore. Most chillingly, it is telling us terrorism and evil is not a thing apart in a suicide bomber’s mind, or in rich countries supplying arms to poor war-ravaged countries, but within ourselves, within the seeds of dogma we plant in our children.


What do we see in the Phoenix’s mutating grey wings?

This: The war in Afghanistan is merely the symptom. Terrorists surround us. It’s in those that stain all of Islam because they are unable to separate religion from dogma; in little Muslim boys who hold guns bigger than themselves, burning effigies, shouting slogans, when they should be reading books.


It is in children in Ireland brainwashed into hating one another without knowing why. It is the arrogant and racist American who believes in an imperialist, white supremacy that presumes anything can be bought. It is in the neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan thugs in Europe and America.


Fundamentalism is in the office worker next to you who feels her faith (be it Christian, Muslim, Hindu) is superior to yours and you will go to hell and she, heaven.


Fundamentalism is in the people who mail anthrax to abortion clinics because they don’t believe a woman should have a right to choose.


Fundamentalism is in the man who bullies, beats or represses his wife because he believes women are inferior and passes on seeds of tyranny to his children.


Fundamentalism is in the people who mock gays and lesbians; in people who shun single mothers, and people who are infected with the AIDS virus.


It is in people who smile politely with other races in public, but condemn them in private purely because of the colour of their skins. Fundamentalism is in everyone who labels people as feminists, socialists, communists and other boxes and throws them down the river.


Look at the world through the Phoenix’ eyes, for our own sakes, for our children, for starving refugees, laid-off workers, for the millions worldwide who walk about with a perpetual shrapnel of anxiety lodged within them because of the bombing in Afghanistan, and its potentially devastating reprisals to people everywhere.


For their sake, and ours, we’d be foolish not to recognise it or nip it in the bud, if not in hardened adults, in the children, while they can still be moulded.


See the Phoenix, how every time we stand up against fundamentalism, or take a step to articulate a collective humanitarian vision, glints gold in the sun.

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur