Islam: looking past the labels

Tue, 20th Jun 2017
PREVIEW

Sunshine Coast lawyer Kyle Kimball says focusing on our shared humanity is a better way of dealing with our fears than targeting Muslims.

Isn’t it just too easy to classify people as Muslim or Christian? To use these words as an explanation for behaviour we don’t understand? That label then allows us to conveniently express and target our fear of those who are not part of our own. They’re all Muslims, so we can single them all out.  What we really mean by that is ‘they’re not us’. Do you ever stop to think what we mean by ‘us’ or ‘Muslim’? 

That someone calls himself, or is called, a Muslim doesn’t make him one, any more than me calling myself an astronaut means I’m going to walk on the moon anytime soon. 

And who gets to decide what is, or is not, a Muslim, or Christian anyway? The press? They can’t even get your kid’s name right for the weekly sports report.

Recent calls by our political masters to keep Muslims, and other non-WASPs, out of this country are the first steps down a slippery slope. There was a country in Europe about 60 years ago that chose to define itself by being anything but followers of a particular religion. In the interests of keeping their nation proudly white and blonde. And they did so by making sure that a particular religion was singled out for all the grief it supposedly caused the rest of them. How did that work out?   

Generalisations about what a religion is or is not, and thus tagging all its followers with that same label serves only the creation of fear. Fear is no excuse for violence or ignorance, it is the cause. The complexity of human nature cannot be dealt with by solutions like Manus Island, or bombs.

The truth is, there is no Muslim, no Christian. Not one group of people can all accurately be conveniently labelled such that we can justify dropping bombs on them (or letting them drown at sea).

Only by treating other folk with compassion and as individuals like you or I, as real people, can we truly realise our common humanity, and go anywhere close to solving the issues that currently seem to be dealt with only by violence. 

People are not their beliefs, at least nowhere other than in the media where it’s convenient or lazy to consider them so. The sooner we realise this, the easier it will be for us to all let go of the fear.

Kyle Kimball is a senior director of Sajen Legal. He believes lawyers are their own worst enemies.