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Your Views: Empathy, trust, not blame, are a path to peace

POSTED: September 29, 2012 12:51 a.m.

I am writing in response to your editorial (“Freedom under fire,” Sept. 16). The current state of affairs in that region demonstrates horribly how cultural values and beliefs can be a disastrous endeavor.

In your first paragraph, you mention the observance of Constitution Week, following worldwide protests that sparked a discussion over the U.S. Constitution’s most cherished right. I agree that freedom of expression as enshrined in the First Amendment is a cherished right in the U.S, but disagree with your opinion that it is the most cherished right.

As a law-abiding citizen, I concur that the Constitution is the supreme law of the U.S. Unfortunately, we have diverse perceptions about interpretation of its contents. Constitutions are not perfect documents; they are a set of fundamental principles or established precedents by which a state or organization is governed, written by men and not by God. They are enablers.

Scholars have recently reflected on Article V, the provision for constitutional amendments, as an admission by the framers of the likely imperfection of the Constitution and a permission to work within its frame to adjust its terms.

I think it is oversimplification to suggest that last week’s protests in the Middle East were sparked by lack of freedom of expression. Reports all over the world show that these violent protests were a result of a film clip posted on the Internet that was considered insulting to Prophet Muhammad.

This was a typical clash of cultural beliefs; otherwise, the rest of the protests are akin to the spring adventure. I am led to believe that our actions and rhetoric have immensely contributed to this sour relationship.

It is being egocentric to think that they hate us and wish us death, not because of anything we’ve done or said as a people, nation or government. In the minds of people in the Middle East, there is immeasurable anger and a sense of hopelessness.

Their reasons for such a state of mind are caused by things such as unwarranted assumptions; the unprovoked attack on Iraq; the Abu Graib prison atrocities; the Libyan question; and the war in Afghanistan.

According to the Pentagon Defense Science Board Report, the war has increased mistrust of America in Europe, weakened support for the war on terrorism, and undermined U.S. credibility worldwide. It will take a concerted effort and empathy to build trust and mutual understanding between the two parties. We need to be sincere in our approach, avoid hasty conclusions and mindless conformity.

In order to create peace, there is need to strike a conciliatory note and stop the blame game. I think your readers deserve a balanced approach to news reporting, not irrational appeal. There is need for independence, tolerance and investigative reporting in our media.

Gibson Mano


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