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Re: Excuse me?
Jun 20, 2002, 16:27
We in the west have a big problem understanding the mindset of anyone who'd self-immolate or be a suicide bomber.

We can much easier understand the actions of someone who fires rockets into a residential area than someone who does the same killing by walking into the town laden with explosives, and so we start talking like the latter is somehow more abhorrent.

My big clue for how to understand this came from a book called Nine Parts Of Desire by Geraldine Brooks. She was a journalist who'd travelled extensively in the middle east, and her book covers treatment of women in assorted middle eastern muslim cultures. It includes things like teenage girls who get pregnant outside marriage being burned alive by their families.

The key to understanding it all is to realise that western culture has the *individual* as the basic unit, whereas many other cultures have the *family*.

Thus, one life (your own or your teenage daughter's) is not the be-all and end-all.

In the west, we are loking out for ourselves above all, and so we are astonished and extra-repulsed by actions that we as individualists could never do.

Brooks' book, incidentally, features some big plus sides to this attitude; the absence of Western culture's rootless longing that makes us try to buy belonging, and also a story of an American woman who married an Iranian man, but after divorce went back to the USA. When she got a serious illness she found her American family and friends were 'too busy' to take care of her, so she returned to her Iranian in-laws who believe that work feeds the family and not the other way round.

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