I really just don't understand…

I joke in here frequently about things that “embarrass” me. Typically they are stories from my past. Usually they are silly. But, there is something that really does embarrass me…

I don’t understand the Middle East.

And I don’t mean in the way that learned scholars debate the finer points of such a complex situation. I quite honestly don’t have a clue what is going on.

And that really embarrasses me.

While I enjoy perpetuating my whole goofball/slacker/fratboyesque facade – and it would take a blog post or six to fully delve into that- I very much do not like not knowing things. Typically when I don’t understand how something works, I grab the manual and sit down and figure it out. (Very unmanly, eh?)

I am somewhat educated. I’m not unintellgient. I really should have a firmer grasp on the essentials at the very least.

But, I am very black or white. I don’t like ambiguity.

Even my favourite movies typically have a good vs. evil theme. I love Westerns. I’ve watched dozens. I’ve written a western screenplay. In westerns, even though there are bad guys that act good and vice versa, at the end of the day it is good vs. evil. You know who you are rooting for.

I played a lot of team sports growing up, so I am also a fan of “us vs. them.” I love that. I feed off it. I like having an “enemy.”

In the middle east, I’d probably need a war crimes trial to tell me who to root against. And, really, all wars are crimes. (Don’t be impressed, I heard that on ‘The West Wing’ a couple nights ago.)

I don’t know anyone from Beirut. I know… probably five Jewish people.

If I had close friends or family in the region, then I would have a “side.” I know it sounds odd, but that would give me a starting point for educating myself. I would learn all I could about my “side.” Then, so I could properly support and defend them, I’d have to learn about the other side.

Actually I am not even sure how many sides there are over there.

And where do you get unbiased facts?

Western media – like western medicine – seems much more interested in the symptoms than the causes.

That doesn’t work for me. I need to know the core issues to be able to try to wrap my mind around why people act the way that they do.

With the exception of fanatics of any kind, I find it hard to lump all “terrorists” together. (Am I really about to defend terrorists?) Some forms of terrorism, to me, seem like a short trip down from “guerilla warfare.” Which is, as history has taught us, a staple of revolutions. We don’t have to look back very far in North American history to learn more about that topic.

I am not defending any actions that kill civilians – or soldiers for that matter – but it just adds to the ambiguity. Which I hate.

I don’t know anything about the Middle East.

That embarrasses me.

But, I am certainly going to try to become better informed.

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5 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    im actually sort of the same way. and i AM jewish, so youd think id have a side. or an opinion. but really i just think it all sucks, and i dont know where to begin to know more about it. its very frustrating.

    lauren

  2. Peter says:

    Hi Lauren.

    I find it both a relief and depressing that I am not alone in my ignorance.

    Maybe admitting it will spur us to learn more.

    (And I was counting you – and judi – in my 5.)

  3. James Cooper says:

    If it’s any help a lot of the people over there don’t really know why they’re fighting either. Then again, that’s even more depressing…

  4. KFarmer says:

    I will admit to ignorance as well. I think even if I was to read every article written, I would still be confused.

    I don’t understand the mentality, so until I do, all is lost on me.

    I wish you much success in your effort. If you get a glimmer of understanding, please pass it on- I would be most interested :)

  5. Peter says:

    James: I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that the more I know, the more depressing it will likely be.

    KF: If I manage to wrap my noggin around it, I’ll be sure to mention it in here. Most likely just between a post on my Lauren Graham crush and one on what the hell Lauren is thinking on “the Hills.” ;)

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