We have more in common than that which divides us
We should not hate someone for what they believe in. Marginalising someone else does nothing more than publicly highlight our own insecurities.
One of my favourite events of the year falls at 11:30pm on Christmas Eve, where it has become a family tradition to travel down to St Paul’s Cathedral for the Midnight Mass. Now I presume your curiosity has led you to question why on earth a Muslim would attend a church service at midnight. But it’s important to understand that we have more in common than that which divides us, since Muslims believe in Jesus as a Prophet of God and the virgin birth of Jesus. Muslims also believe that they, alongside Christians and Jews, are part of the Abrahamic faiths and so it is their duty to maintain close relationships with each other.
When I was walking out of the Church on Christmas Day I wanted to write an article furthering the message I had heard in the sermon where the Dean talked about how sometimes we become so attached to performing a custom, or believing something as fact, that when it is proven to be wrong we react adversely to the news. The Dean described how he had got an unpleasant reaction from a group of mothers after he revealed the role of the innkeeper in the nativity play was fictitious. They reacted by saying that he had ruined their Christmas as they felt the Innkeeper was a key part of the Nativity.
That bit of truth had ruined the conformational bias which had been building up in their heads for the last 30 years or so since they had first heard of the nativity story. It is the notion of confirmation bias which is proving to be so divisive in our world today, for we formulate views with our many different influences and we have the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs. The ease with which we can confirm our irrational biases has been aided by the spread of fake news. With the advent of social media, there is so much information to obtain without needing to invest any time or hard work. This leads to the effortless confirmation of our biases which is accepted easily without checking its authenticity because, inherently as humans, we love to be proven right.
However, the Dean said that sometimes we need to delve beyond what we feel is right and question the legitimacy of the opposing point of view. For often when we analyse the other side of the argument it accomplishes one of two things: either we understand the flaws of the other side and therefore then strengthen our line of view, or we realise that the argument of the other side is stronger than you think and so you are then required to reformulate your line of view. Either way, the process allows you to gain a greater factual understanding of what we believe in.
Yet one thing we must learn to not tolerate, whatever our political background or ideological leaning, is the spread of hate speech, such as Islamophobia or Anti-Semitism. Hate speech is often fuelled by people who have an irrational view of someone or a belief and use half-baked facts to try and prove their view. This usually then leads to generalisations about groups of people. In the decade where the tides of populism have rattled the political arena, the growth of the extreme right and left is often a result of the marginalisation of an idea, group, or belief system leading to an increase in hate towards others. It is easy to offload the blame to other people when things are not going right for ourselves, but the blame game is fuelled by our emotions and it clouds our rational thought.
We should not hate someone for what they believe in. Marginalising someone else does nothing more than publicly highlight our own insecurities. Why someone does something is up to them. Yes, there are things which I don’t agree with, and even some things I personally loathe, but just because I believe in something doesn’t mean that it is universally right. My views should be channeled towards improving myself only. In its worst form fake news, coupled with hate and extreme politics, can lead to the death of innocents like Jo Cox, the former MP for Batley and Spen who famously said, “we have more in common than that which divides us”.
Let us remember that it’s easier to love than to hate.