Instant Debate – Mention Islam to Europeans

It is certainly no new discovery, but as you can see from my vlog entry about the far-right demonstration in Brussels, a sure way to get people commenting and yelling (well not really yelling) at you is to defend people’s right to be muslim. So while I’ve lots of other issues I’d like to bring up, I’ll first come back to this one. And I should mention I do appreciate all comments and I especially appreciate criticism and debate that is carried out in such a way that is not insulting or name calling, but rather about saying I disagree, and here is why. So thanks to all of you who continue to do that.

There were a great deal of comments, including some heartfelt ones from a good friend in Chicago who is originally from Lebanon. (hi dear!) The underlying theme was that I shouldn’t be so in favor of welcoming all things islam into the social and political stage in Europe because, as many people insisted, it is a religion that seeks the joining of church and state, that excludes women, that refuses democratic principles etc, etc.

Now I must state here, because going any further, I don’t claim to know the muslim faith. I’ve never read the Koran or lived in a country where it was the dominant religion. So I don’t honestly know how it all works and what the ultimate goals are, etc. Some of you say you do, and that is good, I’m a big believer in learning, researching for yourself and understanding. All I do is study history, closely observe the present, and learn from my interraction with those in my daily life who I know are of the muslim faith, most of whom I have a great deal of admiration and respect for as kind and honest humans trying to live their lives.

>Here comes something I rarely reveal on the blog, overall, religions and their power over people, scare me. All of them. Places of worship, religious leaders, the artifacts and traditions in general.. I don’t much care for them. HOWEVER. I realize that lots of people do. I see the importance they have in people’s lives, the positive aspects, and I try to respect that. I have a curiosity and a desire to learn from the past, including time honored traditions… because maybe many of them have something to teach us. There are plenty of traditions that I don’t like, and even some I would consider flat out wrong, where humans are tortured or killed for example… I try to draw a line there. You might draw the line somewhere else altogether… fine.

But here’s my little conclusion for today. Generally speaking, the greater the amount of poverty, desperation, and lack of education, the higher the level of religiousity and especially of the irrational fundamentalist kind. In many countries in Europe we see empty churches and few people willing to go to war on the whims of the pope or if someone insults the Catholic or Protestant faith. But a few hundred years ago, those two religions wielded tremendous power and did terrible things in the name of their god. So when people start touting all the dangers and problems of the growth of another religion in Europe, I don’t see it that way. Rather than talking about stopping or in some way stemming the growth or influence of islam in Europe, why not look at the conditions people live in, especially in terms of economics and social mobility. Are people from certain countries really seen as equals and able to have the same access to power and wealth as the “native” population? Are we doing all we can to provide a solid education and social services to people regardless of what neighborhood they live in or their class? I say, learn from history, address these issues, and no matter what your background or your religion, Europe will have a bright future, with civil and healthy disagreement and debate.

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bm221 Aske Dam on Japanese Community TV

Aske Dam has watched the world go from huge cumbersome video equipment to the tiny cameras he enjoys using today. And throughout the last decades he has also been a first hand witness to the phenomenon of local community television stations in Japan. At a time where we are so focused on the internet to set us free, Aske remembers groups of people in Japan who had made their own personal and community media, long before the internet. In this internet we discuss all this and more, while sitting outside overlooking the beautiful city of Heidelberg during VlogEurope 2007.

We Discuss:
-How he first got started with television in Japan
– Cable systems in Japan
-The function and structure of community stations
– The unique and wonderful programs and philosophies of the people involved
– Comparing it to community tv projects in Denmark
– The evolution of localized tv production
– Interactivity
– Later on, bought and sold? Or disappeared?
– Digital Education
– Digital Cinemas

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Lessons from the Amish

Part of having a little office/studio space in an old squat means that I have to clock working hours on the actual building. Thankfully hammering, scraping, or painting are all tasks that allow me the mental freedom to listen to my favorite podcasts all day long.. stopping for the occasional watermelon break.

Today’s audio gem which I strongly recommend comes from On Point, with Tom Ashbrooke. Always a great program, the most recent episode focuses on the Amish population of the United States. It features an author who spent many years living next door to Amish, getting to know them and becoming good friends. He did extensive research about different Amish communities and provides some really eye opening information about them… what I would label as both positive and negative details.

One particular detail that opened my eyes was the fact that Amish communities, especially some of the most conservative ones, have seen population BOOMS in the last decade… more than doubling their numbers!
– Imagine that… living in the US, while all these non-amishpeople, media, objects, not too far from your home.. and yet.. a whole community not only staying out of much of it.. but actually growing!

Beyond that he presents important lessons that the amish could offer the rest of the world.. including: buying and selling local. He talks about their tremendous skill and capacity for farming, and the great tradition of selling locally, to communities down the street. Now of course he talks about issues of education and patriarchy which present some troubling realities… but overall I was very impressed with what he learned about the Amish.

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bm216 My Mother’s Tradition of Rebellion and Challenge

My mother went to school at a time in Portugal where you weren’t supposed to question or challenge a very sexist, classist, and politically repressive nation. Yet throughout her education she took on one challenge after another, making it her tradition to fight against the rules and the limits placed upon her. This podcast is about that experience, in her own words, as we sat in our living room in Caldas da Rainha, Portugal, last week.

We discuss:
– Girls and School
– Access to schools
– Private and Public schools during the dictatorship
– Class and privledge
– Getting to school
– Gender inequality
– Challenging the norms
– University in Coimbra
– Secret activism against the fascist state
– Pamphlets
– Access to power
– Corruption

 

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