I once saw a poster that read: “Decency is a relative thing.” I doubt there is better evidence of that than what one experiences in the Middle East, a complex region where the disparity between the archaic and the modern is mirrored in the attitudes, beliefs, norms and traits of its juxtaposed realities.
Although the structure of certain values which are universal in their nature seem to be shared by some individuals and groups on both sides of the Middle East divide, there is definitely a substantial difference in the relative importance or priorities that is attributed to them. It is this relativity of importance, goal or motivation that dictates any action carried out in their name.
Decency, to the Western, enlightened world, denotes positive attributes such as morality, honesty, politeness and civility. It stands for the display of attitude towards others, and practice of respect for them and for their beliefs. It also upholds and observes the dignity of difference. It is, by far, one of the principal indicators which separate between primitivism and progress. It is the thin line that divides between relics of the outmoded and the drive towards the better and improved. Decency, in the Middle East is, in my view, one facet of interaction that distinguishes between these two. It is this which sets “them” and “us” apart.
They revel in death, we celebrate Life. They flaunt intolerance of anything which is foreign to their own way, we welcome and share it. They suppress minorities, we try to provide them with equal opportunities. They subdue women, we honor them. They impose, we adapt. We willingly share that which they so indecently usurp. They are busy destroying facts; we engage in unearthing them. They are engrossed in rewriting history, we in teaching it as it evolved.
What we try and go out of our way to practice, sometimes at a very dear price human and otherwise, is the kind of decency that many of us in the West were raised to follow. On the other hand, there lies the kind of indecency that they practice, and in which they continue to raise their children. We may not be perfect but we exercise the kind of decency that is going to help us get there. Their indecency will only continue to lead to more havoc and destruction.
Unfortunately, a currently visionless world, brainwashed by a well-oiled propaganda machine, is either too weak, too lazy, too fearful or simply motivated by an overdose of political correctness, refuses to remove its blinders. Instead, it elects to remain intoxicated by a false elixir, while allowing the indecent dictates of its temporarily euphoric yet permanently venomous laws of decency rule its universe.
Hopefully, in a world that, at least until recently, was run by principles which transmitted inherent, permanent and cherished values which were intrinsic to its survival as part of the family of humanity, many will wake up to realize that in the wise words of Theodore Roosevelt, “The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency.”