Sights of London
This afternoon as I sat observing Londoners I saw something worth commenting about and if I expected the tweet to go unnoticed, I failed in that mission.
I robustly engaged all commentary and I have decided it is an issue that should be blogged.
With a number of #SightsOfLondon hash tags I tweeted:
#SightsOfLondon It's 26 degrees and you are in a black hijab. Diagnosis: Heatstroke brought on by religious stupidity.
Immediately after I posted this I was told my comments were inappropriate and that I was ignorant of the subject.
This was one area where I was not ready to back down to insouciance because of the many things that were clearly in that tweet that the reactions missed out of a lack of comprehension first, an inability to contextualise commentary and thin-skinned feeble-mindedness.
The setting is this – the weather, it was hot and humid, without a wind, literally every was dressed lightly, I did not see any extremes of undress of exposure, but people were dressed to ensure they did not overheat, probably dehydrate and possibly suffer heatstroke.
The verdict in terms of diagnosis what I anticipated the possibility that if she was dressed and completely covered in black, the body will not be allowed the opportunity to dissipate heat and hence cool down bringing on heatstroke – if she did suffer heatstroke, one would expect that emergency services and doctors will come to an easy conclusion, but that was from my tweet a future possibility much as she might well never suffer heatstroke for all sorts of extenuating circumstances.
What my tweet did not say was that hijabs were bad and the completeness of my tweet made a clear reference to colour.
Common-sense: The missing piece
Then to address the other surrounding issues in terms of the reactions, I have no problems with people following some religious creed or diktat, it is a matter of conscience but even religious matters require the use of common-sense, that is what we have our intellect for, to be able to reason and make smart decisions in relation to our faiths.
The hijab allows for wearers to express outward modesty and chastity but it should not be at the expense of their well-being and comfort because that will be foolish – I can see no reason why that should excite argument apart from fundamentalist fanaticism that sacrifices every God-given ability to reason for a blind adherence to letter that has not spirit of recognising basic human circumstances, needs and situations – reason allows us to adapt – in very hot and humid weather, sure reasoning would have been expressed in wearing a hijab of light clothing and light colours.
The disabling power of ignorance
It is the same lack of reasoning in the application of religious views that had the Catholic Church in Brazil opposing the abortion of the pregnancy of a nine-year old girl where doctors had clear said she could not bring the pregnancy to term and the risk of loss of life to the girl and the foetus was very likely.
The parents were pragmatic and sensible enough to allow for the pregnancy to be terminated to save their nine-year old daughter than to risk the loss of their known daughter and completely unknown prospective grandchild. Sadly, they were ex-communicated.
The same can be said of the Mohammedan cartoon controversy where people were killing themselves in faraway lands for depictions that could never be true and they should have better not to accept considering the artists were not even adherents of the faith.
I am saddened that feeble sensibilities, ignorance and the wiliness to be easily offended to the extent of causing oneself undue and unnecessary stress over matters that are particular and easily irrelevant is stifling good discussion but if we allow a latitude of tolerance in our outlooks we gain the opportunity to show that our religion is not driven by fanatical observance to the exclusion of our faculties one will usually expect this of the supposedly better informed.
From time immemorial, religious practices of all faiths have been praised, debated, questioned, condemned, excoriated, blamed or ridiculed – it will not stop today and if the affected are not ready to cast off subjective assessments of the issues and they succumb to the disabling influence of sentiment that negates the use of their intellect and common-sense, they will invariably be hurt and the higher moral ground with be yielded to those who challenge the practices.
Worse still, their reactions might well take what has been questioned into the realm of the bizarre, the outlandish and outrageous bringing even more opprobrium on the matter.
In closing my argument, the tweet was written to a very particular situation and observation but it got blown up into a generalisation by the reactions that it would have been within my rights to take serious offence for the fact that the readers lacked understanding of my tweet and their comprehension of the whole context was wanting – on the other issues of fundamentalism, fanaticism and the use of intellect – the blog speaks for itself.