There is a pervasive ignorance in our intelligentsia that I find so deeply troubling and insulting. We have divorced, in mind and heart, religion from knowledge. In doing so, we are denying our own simple common sense – that Christianity has to do with the Enlightenment, that Islam has to do with terrorism, that Daoism has to do with Chinese farming. We have ignored the very essence and foundation of so many human beings in the world, turning a blind eye to that which troubles and challenges us.
To anyone who claims to know American politics and has never opened a Bible: you do not know American politics.
To anyone who claims to know Middle Eastern history and has never opened a Qur’an: you do not know the Middle East.
To anyone who claims to know Chinese culture and has never opened a Dao De Jing: you do not know Chinese culture.
Many in intellectual circles in the West, frightfully, know more about Grendel then about Goliath, or about Candide more then the Bible. Too, they know more Egyptian, Roman, Greek, or Babylonian mythology then about Hinduism, Islam, or Sikhism. And then they claim to not be ignorant. They claim to stand for pluralism. They claim to stand for liberalism. They claim to be knowledgeable about the world. Too, they claim to not discriminate against Islam and to stand “with the Muslims” on this subject or that. Too, they claim to be enlightened for the knowledge Hinduism isn’t exactly polytheistic.
This is not about proselytizing or engaging in mysticism (or worse yet, spirituality!). This is about the common human decency to understand your fellow man and the world around you.
Learn about the world, since you’re already stuck living in it.
Here’s what I said to a friend of mine once:
I have emotional trouble with people who have no desire to learn who I am and where I come from, and then claim to be friends.
That would be almost all of them. And it keeps me up at night.