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It’s not our differences that divide us. It’s EGO.

It’s not our differences that divide us. It’s EGO.

By on August 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

As we live in a world of difficult times.  Where by the hour- we are watching the news headlines to see if the United States will bomb Syrian targets for the use of chemical weapons upon a civilian population- I take a step back and think, “Why are we killing each other on this planet?”

There are plenty of political opinions on the situations in Syria, in Egypt, in Palestine, in Afghanistan and everywhere else in the world where conflict is a way of life.  But for a moment- I am looking beyond tribe and political affiliation and allegiance to country and flag.  Beyond the conspiracy theories and the conflicting media reports.

I am looking at the human psyche.

[Quran 25:43] Have you seen the one whose god is his own ego? Will you be his advocate?

[Quran 45:23] Have you noted the one whose god is his ego? Consequently, God sends him astray, despite his knowledge, seals his hearing and his mind, and places a veil on his eyes. Who then can guide him, after such a decision by God? Would you not take heed?

Islam means submission to the will of God.

You are Muslim when you believe in One God- and you submit all of your affairs to Him and His will.

This sounds basic,  (either I believe in God or I don’t) yet it’s complex.  Submitting yourself to a higher power is the first step in conquering your ego.

Why does the ego have to be conquered?

We are instructed to kill our egos.

[Quran 2:54] Recall that Moses said to his people, “O my people, you have wronged your souls by worshiping the calf. You must repent to your Creator. You shall kill your egos. This is better for you in the sight of your Creator.” He did redeem you. He is the Redeemer, Most Merciful.

Perhaps it is because we live on a planet with other people and other societies.  And it’s not about what we think.  Perhaps it is about the collective good.

Perhaps we get it wrong sometimes.

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Human destruction arises from the fires of greed.

The fires of greed are stoked  with the kindling of selfishness.

Selfishness is the the grip of an untamed ego.

When the ego is unleashed, it makes empathy difficult or even non-existent.

In a 2012 article on POPSCI, “Humans can’t be empathetic and logical at the same time,” author Colleen Park indicates that many choices are a struggle to compromise the two human systems–logic and emotion–and that may have to do with how our brains are wired.

” … study published in NeuroImage found that separate neural pathways are used alternately for empathetic and analytic problem solving. The study compares it to a see-saw. When you’re busy empathizing, the neural network for analysis is repressed, and this switches according to the task at hand.”

The study suggests that empathy and logic are actually running on two different wires in our brain.  It is why a leader can make a decision that effects human beings negatively without seemingly flinching- so long as it makes logical sense for the task at hand wether it be a business decision or political decision.

In a 2012 Psychology Today article, “Out of the Darkness,” author Steven Taylor explains empathy as “the ability to ‘feel with’ another person, to identify {sic} with them and sense what they’re experiencing. It’s sometimes seen as the ability to ‘read’ other people’s emotions, or the ability to imagine what they’re feeling, by ‘putting yourself in their shoes.'”

He expresses how a strong sense of identity or ego can affect our ability to interract with people in the world.

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“Our strongly developed sense of individuality – or being a personal self, or ego – can make it difficult for us to experience this state of connection. The ego ‘walls us off’ from other people, particularly those belonging to other groups – the other gender (in the case of female oppression), other tribes, nations, races or classes. It encloses us in a narrow world of our own thoughts and desires, making us so self-absorbed that it’s difficult for us to experience the world from other people’s perspective. Other people become truly ‘other’ to us. And this makes it possible for us to inflict suffering on them, simply because we can’t sense the pain we’re causing them. We can’t feel with them enough to sense their suffering.”

The “us versus them” mentality is what he is talking about.

When people say, “Oh!  Let them kill each other over there!  All they do is fight.”  As if “they” (ie people in the middle east, seemingly in perpetual conflict) are not human and the fact that they have issues are a nuisance to the person relegating the situation to one where they should “just kill each other.”

Or when you hear conversations with phrases that start with “they.”

“They are terrorists.”

Who are terrorists?

Them?

Oh … yeah… THEM.

Us .. or WE are the good guys, the normal guys, the sane guys, the guys who get it “right.”

Them or they are the bad guys, the crazy guys, the terrorists, the guys who get it wrong.

It is not white or black or Christian or Muslim or Atheist or American or Arab or any cultural difference that divides us.  It is the individual ego.  It is the differenc between those who have humbled themselves (to God or in general) and those who are full of themselves- and elevate themselves above humankind.

It is the mentality of the ego-maniac, the untamed ego- that creates conflict.

Creates the “us versus them” mentality.

Creates stereotypes.

Makes decisions without empathy for other human beings.

Makes war a logical decision.  A decision that does not take into account the consequence to human suffering.

Taylor explains in his article how the United Kingdom has been pushing a system of “restorative justice.”  Where criminals are forced to listen to their victims and the victims’ families.  To hear the pain and the suffering their actions have placed on other people.  It is a system that believes that empathy – to some  degree – can be learned.

Can empathy be learned?

Can it be honed?

Can an ego be tamed?

Have you ever met someone who seemed to think their excrement didn’t stink and then years later- they seem different?  Humbled?

Is it possible for the ego to be restrained?

I believe it is possible.

I believe that it is a work in process.

It first begins with admitting the reality of one’s ego.

The next step is giving oneself a true assessment of their ego.

And then it is the decision to want to relinquish the ego.

It is not something that happens overnight.  And it can certainly ebb and flow.

But the only way for oppression and war to end- is to end selfishness and out-of-control egos.

No one can relinquish my ego nor can I tame the ego of another.

The state of the ego is only in the control of one’s self.

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About the Author

About the Author: I'm a Writer and Muslim Activist. I'm also a Board Member of the #MyJihad Public Education Campaign. Follow my blog at yasminareality.com or follow me on Twitter: @yasmina_reality. I'm also now on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YasminaReality Peace! .

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