Karen Armstrong of the Guardian writes a column in which she makes a plea for better understanding of the different religious worldviews that are floating about in the global marketplace of ideas. After subjecting us to a dose of postmodern hocus-pocus which she employs, as best as I can tell, to make the point that truth is often a complicated thing, she closes with this:
We must, therefore, make a concerted attempt to listen critically to all the stories out there in order to gain a more panoptic vision. This includes our own cultural narrative. Our modernity has liberated many of us, but it has disenfranchised others. Counter-narratives that question the myth of western freedom must also be heard, because they represent a crucial element in the conflicted, tragic whole.
I have a couple of questions: Why is it that we're always the ones who have to try to understand other people's "stories"? Shouldn't Ms Armstrong's plea for understanding be directed at the Islamists who are undertaking to purge the globe of Western civilization? Shouldn't they be expected to show greater appreciation for our "myth"?
Second, when the "other" starts flying hijacked airplanes into our skyscrapers isn't the time for acquiring "a more panoptic vision" and appreciating their "context" pretty much at an end? Or are we supposed to keep "affirming" their "narrative" right up to the moment when they've sliced our head from our shoulders?