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Art, not bombs, will reform Middle East

What can we in the West do for the crisis in the Middle East? The present recipe of war stokes passion, promotes ideological conflict and raises tensions between people as they are thrust together running from conflict zones. This approach may benefit the arms dealers, but it is hard to decipher who else benefits from all the misery, death and suffering caused by the military.

The ideological conflicts within the Middle East are many, but they have been there for more than a thousand years. The issues are compounded by other interests exerted by the larger and powerful hegemony of super-nations to fortify positions to extract resources.

The reliance on these nations' arms dealers to supply weapons to the battling factions has become an important economic pillar in the Western economy. One only needs to cite the $400 billion arms deal with America and the $15 billion deal with Canada as examples; then add France, Russia, Britain and Germany, and it becomes a staggering amount. With hundreds of thousands of persons employed to assist in the conflict, where will the political incentive come from to do something different?

There are areas where the media fail us also by feeding religious intolerance. We are bombarded with a stereotype of a jihadist-type religion. Movies, television, even talk-show presenters prefer to profile radicals because it sells more news. Human nature is what it is and we are very much “monkey see, monkey do”. When we promote radicals even just by imaging, we create more radicalism.

We are living in a world that is becoming increasingly globalised and multicultural, which should advance civilisation to a post-religious era. Not that religion will not exist, but an ideology of neighbourliness, environmental consciousness and reverence towards everything created and the Creator will be more universal in appreciation.

Here is where the role of the artist and cinema can make a significant impact both here and in the Middle East. Once you characterise different role models, these images can have a big transformative impact worldwide. Here is where the moderate view can be established and promoted.

Unfortunately, what has happened with all the migrations is that persons have imported their own culturally infused religion to the West. Hence, if you attend a mosque anywhere in the Americas, it would be scarcely any different if you were living in the Middle East.

The domestic or local idea of Islamic or native expression is nearly non-existent, but that is where the truth and problem are. Islam is not, in reality, a geoculture; it is not Arabic or Middle Eastern, but is promoted as such. The biblical verse “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me” is also a marketing principle because whatever you lift up draws and, at present, the wrong narrative is being lifted up.

It is also understandable how religious turf wars would want to maintain an archaic format for Islam, but, eventually, more truthful versions will emerge.

When the artists and intellectuals do their job, they can do more than any bomb does to reform the Middle East. This is a huge market engaging billions of people. However, at the moment, the money is following the politics and the focus is on Donald Trump.

One cannot help but think the politics of Trump is a distraction that allows the thief to pick our pockets in our stupor, continuing the war games and depriving the world of peace.

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Published October 29, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated October 29, 2018 at 8:45 am)

Art, not bombs, will reform Middle East

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