|Posted by thethousandmarch on September 28, 2010 at 8:45 PM|
Many westerners seem to be perplexed by what they view as an overreaction on the part of Muslims to such things as cartoons of Mohamed and the threat of burning the Qur’an. Some of us may also look at Hindus with disdain because they believe cows are sacred. However, a recent news article gave me some insight as to what we as westerners view as sacred.
Now a sacred object is simply an object that is set apart from similar objects and treated as special. In the west there are many animals we treat as sacred – we call them pets. We especially revere cats and dogs. We get very upset at people who do not revere them, and instead do things like eat them. A woman in England was recently videotaped throwing a live cat into the garbage. She has received death threats. She says she doesn't understand why what she did was so bad; she treated a holy object as profane.
Intellectually I don't really believe that certain material objects are deserving of special reverence. I believe that all creation is in a way sacred and deserving of respect. Yet, there are a couple of things I emotionally cannot but treat as sacred – crosses, Bibles, pictures of Jesus and American flags. I cannot desecrate these objects and am irritated by people who do not give them proper respect. Now I don't revere the flag in the same way I honor Christian artifacts, but there are many Americans who view these objects as equally hallowed. These people can get pretty pissed off when some one desecrates one of these holy objects.
Perhaps an understanding of how we feel when someone breaks one of our taboos will help us understand other peoples' reaction to our desecration of their sacred objects.