Mea Culpa

When we take no interest in the affairs of our country, in our countrymen; when we remain mute and paralyzed in the face of injustice and manifestation of evil; when we fold our arms and pretend helplessness; when we devote our life to the temple of entertainment and self-indulgence; we are responsible.

By Fahri Azzat

A meditation on our culpability as a citizen for the church attack and burnings that started on 8 January 2010.

My initial reaction upon discovering that churches were attacked and burned was to brim with my almost customary outrage and disgust. A house of worship no matter what the religion is entitled to respect and treated as sacred ground, more so by those who do not belong to that religion.

I wrote a piece in that anger and have reproduced it below, just so you can get an idea into my emotional state at the time and contrast it with my present. I blamed the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Inspector General of Police, in short, the usual suspects, for virtually allowing those Islamist zealots to commit those acts of arson and terrorism. I would have posted that piece were it not for a server problem that prevented me from doing so and forced me to sleep. When I woke up and re-read the draft, I felt different. There was a distance between how I felt today and yesterday. It no longer resonated with me. Truth be told, after reading it, I thought it shallow and even a little untruthful.

Yesterday’s (8 January 2010) anger that seized me gave way this morning to a great sadness and pity not just for the church, or even the Prime Minister and his cronies, but for each and every one of us, and so our country. Worse, I actually felt somehow culpable for the church burnings! Why do I, who abhors violence, have nothing to do with the church burnings, and despise the Islamist zealots that did it, still feel responsible?

Though the burning wreck is the handiwork of Islamist zealots, I cannot help but see the fingerprints of our apathy, our greed, our selfishness, our ignorance, our obsession with convenience and ease in there too. What I completely missed earlier now stands so clearly and brightly that I can no longer ignore it.

Read more at: Mea Culpa