We live in a world saturated with information, bombarding you with advertising, surrounding you with all sorts of online and offline mediums carrying many types of news in different forms. This is very different from twenty years ago, when social media was not as prevalent and pervasive, and traditional media did not have to diversify.
In a world of colour and visuals and words, with only 24 hours a day, how do you decide what to pay attention to? Can you decide how you will deal with continuous visual and auditory stimulation? If you were approached about a topic and a request is made asking for a small portion of your time to evaluate before deciding, what makes for an interesting productive conversation and interactive platform, whereby you might be willing to participate?
If you are reading or learning about a topic through a conversation, do you agree the concept of streamlining through vital context and using appropriate visuals in a concise manner will help facilitate understanding and absorption of information?
In a busy day requiring you to fulfil your responsibilities to work or school or other factors, approaching you for your decision is analogous to good manners from a host, asking guests such as yourself to decide after everything has been carefully laid out for your perusal.
Before engaging people in a conversation and making it as productive and fair as possible for you, I would like to share two perspectives I learned from two people living in two very different countries, from very different backgrounds.
I once asked someone how he dealt with name-calling and intense negativity he sometimes received from people, simply for using a certain label to identify himself and when he respectfully participated in some conversations. His answer confirming how he shared an admirable attitude with a smile was a profoundly humbling and educational epiphany.
“It doesn’t bother me at all, he’s a human too and he’s clearly a victim to a hateful upbringing that is specifically ‘otherising’ to many people including me. I’ve learned over a lot of time to just chill out and enjoy life, this sort of stuff is easy to deal with. It’s much harder when it’s people you know and love, of course.”
As someone who has lived many years in the Middle East and Europe, he distilled priceless truth worth remembering, and did not hesitate to generously share his understanding with strangers. Almost halfway across the world, Alice Springs aboriginal town councillor Jacinta Nampijimpa Price was sharing a different perspective on a different topic, when speaking to the Killarney Heights Forestville Branch of the Liberal Party in Australia.
“The western world has been able to progress because constructive criticism is embraced. Progress cannot be made if one cannot be challenged. But this means having to be honest. This means having the same standards for everyone. An Aboriginal child is an Australian child and all Australian children should have the same rights. If any Australian child is in danger of abuse or neglect, then that child deserves the right to be protected not on the basis of that child’s race but on the basis of that child’s rights.”
From these two perspectives, countless priceless truths can be combined. As a child, you cannot control your upbringing and the circumstances you were exposed to or are being exposed to. As you grow, you will try to learn what is right and wrong, try to ascertain what you decide to identify as true or false, and even as an adult, there are countless topics you will be undecided about or never have an opinion about. No human can know everything in this world, and we do not have to have an opinion about everything.
We should not expect anyone to know everything. Will you accept how much we can learn about this world but have limited time and energy to do so, every day? If we are facing a topic or problem, how can we be fair to children, and to fellow human beings?
Ultimately, regardless of whatever labels you use to identify yourself or others, the people you agree with or disagree with are fellow humans. When it comes to discussions, people may forget or may not realise how three important underlying emotional and psychological factors can affect listening abilities, evaluation of information, and decisions being made, which have nothing to do with logic.
Without acknowledging these factors, we cannot make a necessary conscious shift in consensus to move forward together, using the same standards. To enable a fair and beneficial conversation becoming productive, please decide if you are aware of the three factors below.
Factor 1: Depending on the topic and depending on who you are engaging in a discussion, you may have tied together your identity, your pride, your credibility and how you validate yourself and your values, based on what you believe. This can be amplified by what you have directly experienced, without realising what you do not know but need to know. The strength of this emotional web amplified by time should not be discounted, because lack of self-awareness about this and lack of awareness about so much you do not know can strongly affect your willingness to listen and consider different information, or to make decisions.
Factor 2: Depending on the person you have asked to participate in a discussion, they may be mentally bearing the weight of a vast network of expectations, demands, threats, and judgements of entire communities, which also emotionally and psychologically affects how they deal with information at that point, and affects how they make choices regarding whatever you have said. This weight is usually multiplied over time.
Factor 3: When you are in a comfortable zone, or tired, and may not be feeling open to new or different information which might require you to exert effort and could change your world view, would you be willing to listen? If so, how would you want to hear about it?
Do you agree or disagree? More importantly, are you aware of these three factors which may affect you or others?
For people who subscribe to a form of religion, habits are formed which may be based on beliefs, and there may be certain fervent beliefs which you use to make decisions. Your personal system of rules and ethics may be clear and secure and straightforward or less clear than that, based on what you think you know. You may have a terror of Hell or a fear of what constitutes bad karma in a next lifetime, or something regarding an afterlife.
People who do not subscribe to religion also form habits, might have certain beliefs about certain non-religious concepts based on connective evaluation of global events and history, and a personal system of rules and ethics may or may not be clear and secure and straightforward.
Regardless of whether you subscribe to a religion or not, would you say balancing facts with empathy is important, for the sake of intellectual integrity and identifying problems, when it comes to making decisions and learning about issues?
Do you believe empathy should not override crucial facts and details, when such facts and details are vital to solving problems or providing fair recourse to victims?
Do you agree a need for truth should override fears and insecurities, to help current victims and prevent future victims? Can you overcome your emotional attachments and refusal to be wrong, if unknown facts were presented and can fundamentally transform what you think you have always known? If you are right, how do you help others who may have a hard time accepting and coming to terms with what you give them?
Do you think people should be ostracized and shunned by family and friends and strangers, if they disagree with each other about a label or about a topic? How can we be fair to each other? How should a conversation progress, with love and wisdom?
The Ex-Muslim said it very well in his answer as the first perspective given here, remembering how everyone is human, and how people can be victims of their upbringing. Someone you lambast and do not know could be a victim of an upbringing you are not aware of, and unaware of how their upbringing negatively influences them in their choices as an adult. People need time and opportunity to change. Conversations conducted in an appropriate manner are crucial. You must also decide whether you want to grow as a person, which requires being willing to making changes and admitting errors.
To be fair toward each other and make progress for the better is about being honest, being open to constructive criticism, and making some standards equal for everyone, as Jacinta Price pointed out while making a speech about her background and how to enable aboriginal people to progress in modern Australia.
Do you recognise a child has a right to be protected, regardless of race or religion or culture? If a child is experiencing abuse or a problem, should the abuse or problem be stopped, with efforts made to prevent future occurrences? Should children be protected with vital unavoidable information adults are supposed to handle and acknowledge to make decisions, to give children a better future?
Should this protection be extended to adults, or should adults be given the information to share with other adults and help make decisions? Regardless of geography and nationality, strangers or not, we are all extensively connected, far more than some people may realise. Everything is best initiated with a constructive and honest conversation.
If we empower each other, slaying demons of ignorance and misunderstood information and unnecessary divides, how much could we achieve? How beautiful could it be, to overcome miscommunication and embrace each other with love and wisdom?
To do so, it is not through destructive one-sided revolution of misunderstandings and fancy rhetoric, but greater evolution through a vital encompassing conversation leading to true balance, bringing everyone forward together. Wisdom balances love and intellect and to do so in reality without stagnating as a philosophical unrealistic fantasy, a project must be able to create and demonstrate how this can effectively happen, by asking you and other people to participate in a conversation.
To launch this thinktank-community, the chosen topic of conversation will be divided into two stages and involve Ex-Muslims, who have existed for more than 1000 years. Many different types of conversations related to this topic have been attempted and conducted over the years, and some articles have been published in recent years, but Ex-Muslims remain mostly hidden.
What would be a fair and beneficial conversation to Ex-Muslims, Muslims and non-Muslims, because Muslims and non-Muslims are also vital to a connective conversation of progress? This conversation should be held at a local and global level and will be unlike any other conversation in history involving Ex-Muslims, because Muslims and non-Muslims are friends and family members who need to help fellow humans decide how you want children to learn from you.
Everybody who chooses to participate will make a difference in this unique conversation, and the greater the numbers, the greater the extent of transformation. Participation can be as simple and effective as sharing vital information and perspectives.
The world has never had globally-connected or nationally-connected conversations for much of human history because the technology, scientific discoveries and advances, and education levels did not exist, to enable such conversations to happen. With the proliferation of social media, diversification of media outlets, and tools such as laptops and smartphones, strangers can connect with each other. Many people are informed of news locally and globally, while using modern technology to help each other. How can this transform into a national conversation?
As an example, Malaysia held its 14th general elections this year in May. Malaysians who live outside Malaysia in various countries such as the USA used Facebook to connect with each other and make plans with fellow Malaysians inside Malaysia, pooling resources, organizing meet-ups, and designating roles to enable their postal votes to get back to the respective polling locations in time, while staying updated.
Despite severe limitations with their mainstream media and other circumstances, the Malaysian opposition physically campaigned in many locations but also utilised social media to connect with the public, uploading videos, news articles and live rallies for supporters.
According to an article in the Star Online titled “Mobile Cellular penetration reaches 131%” published on 14 February 2018, smartphone penetration in Malaysia was at 70% while broadband penetration was at 84.5%, in the third quarter of 2017. Some rural communities do not have internet but overall, Malaysians use technology rather extensively to stay connected and informed of views not found in the mainstream media. This potential was not underestimated by the opposition, who maximised it to overcome limitations.
The result was a historic democratic triumph through shared values of humanity connecting modern technology, and it was vital for a huge number of citizens willing to make their votes count. Many local and non-local experts were proved wrong. A party in power for more than 60 years since Malaysia became independent is no longer the federal government. Communication, connections, love and forgiveness of bitter history between the leaders of opposition parties was vital to starting such a success, powered by human capability for evolution to move forward together.
We are citizens of at least one country but just as importantly, we are global citizens who share one planet.
What could be achieved, if we share admirable values of humanity such as striving for consistent intellectual integrity and wanting fellow humans to have a better quality of life, with modern technology? What happens if we remember to communicate and listen with those factors in a global or local conversation, before making choices, unlike many of our ancestors who did not have the opportunities to do so?
Are you aware of many unheard or unspoken messages of hope, reconciliation and peace stemming from love and shared history, which a son may wish to give to his father, a daughter may yearn to tell a sister, or a mother wants to let her child know, but the conversations do not happen because of unnecessary barriers and misunderstandings?
To understand people who identify as Ex-Muslims and what Ex-Muslims can go through, please click and read the first link below. The link leads to the first important stage of the conversation, containing streamlined concise information and is vital to sharing a conversation with fellow humans using civilized respectful rhetoric, regardless of the label you identify with. Your love and respect for humanity is reflected in how you are willing to handle a conversation between fellow humans, taking turns to listen and talk, regardless of whether you are talking to strangers or friends.
To proceed to the second stage of the streamlined conversation involving three vital details alongside crucial context and necessary standardization of language, please thoroughly read the first link containing the first stage below, before going to the link at the end of it titled “The Second Stage”.
The second stage of the conversation will permanently and irreversibly transform what you believe you know, globally and locally, to help every child and adult move forward.