A sense of perspective

Long before Douglas Adams came up with the idea of the ‘Total Perspective Vortex’   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSnJl7B_TVs  people have shown a knack of insulating themselves from the harsher forms of reality.

A couple of things sort of came together over the last couple of days which just drove home to me how little of our history so many people actually know.

One example came when I read a comment on Facebook. Someone had posted something about free Tibet and that it’s so many years since the Chinese invaded etc.

Somebody else then commented that it was shocking we hadn’t done anything about it and it would doubtless have been different if Tibet had had oil.


I just sat there trying to work out how many different ways that was just wrong. I did wonder if perhaps the fact that oil wasn’t all that important back then might have been relevant. (As an aside I’ve got a book ‘Electro-war’ written during WW2 which talks about them experiencing ‘peak oil’ before the war ends. Why? Because the Americans were using mechanised divisions and this was vastly increasing the amount of fuel burned and there was no way production could keep up with this.)
Or perhaps it was the fact that when the Chinese invaded Tibet we were already fighting them in Korea, and if facing an army of over a million of them isn’t pulling our weight, what is?

There again, had they worked out just how we were going to get an army to Tibet to help the Tibetans? We’d already pulled out of India, and the idea of reinvading so that we could rush troops to the landlocked Tibetan Plateau probably didn’t appeal to thinking people at the time.

And then, later that day I saw a thread which blamed the growth of ISIS on George W Bush. This time I don’t think I had the heart to respond. Have these people no sense of time or knowledge of history?

How long do people think we’ve had sects within Islam who were violently opposed not merely Kuffars but also to other Moslems? Or do they think that prior to George W taking office in 2001 there wasn’t an issue? Do they seriously visualise a whole generation radicalised in eight years! (Or 13 years if we assumed he was also out there radicalising young Muslims whilst he was governor of Texas.)

I would recommend that if anybody is seriously interested in what might have had such an impact on some followers of Islam, they read up on Wahhabism (go on, treat yourself, a least read the wiki   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahhabism  )

If you want to blame a politician for Islamic Radicalisation, I’d recommend you read http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Last-Mughal-Fall-Delhi/dp/1408800926 . There is a strong argument for linking the growth of Wahhabism to the flight of Islamic scholars from the Mughal court after the collapse of the Indian Mutiny. Indeed you can probably lay far more of the blame at the door of men like James George Smith Neill and William Stephen Raikes Hodson than you can at the feet of old Dubya.

I suppose it’s because it’s the easy way out. It simplifies things. You see a problem, blame it on your current hate figure, and that’s it. Job done.

Obviously this process is no help at all if you want to solve the problem, but I’ve come to the conclusion that for most people, the solution isn’t really something that interests them. So long as they can blame it on somebody they already hate for some reason, then it’s ‘job done’ as far as they’re concerned.


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8 thoughts on “A sense of perspective

  1. The Story Reading Ape June 16, 2015 at 9:44 am Reply

    Human nature at it’s most stupid Jim…

    • jwebster2 June 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm Reply

      Some of it is a total lack of historical perspective or even knowledge. On British novelist has one of his characters picked up by the Americans on a suspected terrorism charge (Back in the 1990s. The old man admits to them he was in the army in Libya and Tunisia and under further questioning say he’d seen Americans there. Even when he said the Americans were led by one George S Patton the penny failed to drop 🙂
      The embarrassing thing is that it isn’t just Americans who don’t know their history, a large proportion of the UK Population seem to have missed out of what you might call the basics.

  2. The Opening Sentence June 16, 2015 at 7:42 pm Reply

    The old political trick of ‘being seen to be doing something’ is spreading to the population at large. People want to be seen taking an interest in an issue, but they’re not so interested as to be distracted away from uploading photos of their pizza to Twitter.

    As for the Islamic State problem: Wahhabi Salafism has a lot to answer for and I doubt Dubya could even pronounce it.

    • jwebster2 June 16, 2015 at 9:35 pm Reply

      The danger is that people feel that it’s fine to comment without understanding. In some sad cases this is combined with the feeling that once you’ve commented, you have done anything anybody is entitled to expect of you and you can then get on with your life, smugly aware you have done all your duty

  3. M T McGuire June 19, 2015 at 4:32 pm Reply

    I think I’m a bit of a control freak in some ways because I like to know how the world works, or at least have a reasonable idea. Just sucking up heresay makes it even more scary.

    The thing which I think might be contributing to radicalisation of all religions is lack of moderate religious education. My parents went to an Anglican church so when I went to university and a bunch of folks tried to recruit me into the kind of church that tries to tell you who you can mix with and what you can do (dancing is evil, rock music is from the devil etc) I was able to counter their quotes from the old testament with quotes from the new, because I’d heard a new testament reading every Sunday for most of my life and a lot more had stuck than I realised. One friend joined and one day, when she asked me why I hadn’t. I explained that if the bible teaches us anything it’s that the world is not black and white. She quoted some Old Testament hellfire at me and I countered with some New Testament stuff. She said she didn’t know much about the New Testament, which seemed strange for a Christian, and that my point of view was interesting and that she’d ‘ask the elders’. She did and they came back with another hell fire old testament quote which I countered with another New Testament quote. This happened several times until I asked her what would happen if she tried thinking for herself instead of letting ‘the elders’ do it for her. She came back and when I asked her for their reply she said, “they’ve told me not to talk to you”. That was the last I heard of her.

    I think people naturally search for meaning and those that do are being radicalised through their own ignorance. The extremists always seem so sure of themselves and it’s so much easier when the world is black and white.



    • jwebster2 June 19, 2015 at 5:34 pm Reply

      I always suspect that a lot of those who practice ‘controlling’ religion shy away from the New Testament. It’s got too many quotes which are embarrassing for the controlling. How many of ‘the elders’ could cope with being reminded of Matthew 7: 1-3, the bit that starts off “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged,” Or Romans 14:10 where Paul starts “Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister?”
      One problem the extremists have with Christianity is that it’s pretty obvious that Christ (Like Isaiah and a fair few of the other OT Prophets) disliked organised religion 🙂
      The more I learn the more I realise that people seem happier in a world of their own devising. So they erect walls and within those walls they define what is the truth. But embarrassingly the truth has been known to seep into their ordered world and they dislike it immensely. Which is a pity really because the truth will set them free. But freedom, like responsibility, seems to be too heavy a burden for some 😦

  4. rootsandroutes2012 June 23, 2015 at 5:09 pm Reply

    Sorry Jim – unless you’re prepared to make out an argument that Luke had an overwhelmingly strong urge to present Jesus as a faithful Jew from a faithful Jewish family (and it *can* be attempted…) Luke 4:16 is embarrassing problem for the view that Jesus was anti organised religion.

    • jwebster2 June 23, 2015 at 10:04 pm Reply

      I’m assuming that you’re taking it through to the end of verse 21? In which case I’d have said that for the organised religion of his day, Jesus has just told them that the job was done and those in ‘authority’ were out of a job because they no longer had authority. I’d have thought that he was at the very least suggesting that ‘the year of the Lord’s favour’ meant some new dispensation?

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