12 September 2007

I only know that I don't know much.

Even though I usually don't watch any TV during the week of September 11th, while I was at the gym yesterday I saw a commercial for a documentary that CNN aired earlier this summer. I had wanted to watch it, but managed to miss all 3 parts of the documentary.

Called "God's Warriors" and reported by Christiane Amanpour, a woman whom I greatly admire, I was very disappointed when I realized I missed the original airing of it. She examined each of the world's 3 major religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Last night they aired the Islamic portion, and I watched with fascination. I thought from time to time, "This, THIS is when TV is good. Informational, educational...this is what television ought to be."

Do I claim to now understand the Islamic point of view after watching a TV show? No. Of course not. But I learned quite a bit. Enough to know that I still don't understand. One of these days, I am going to read the Koran, in an attempt to further understand this faith, which seems from the outside to be so peaceful.

She spoke to a huge range of people, from extremists to moderates, American Muslims, Iranian Mullahs, Shia, Sunni, women and men. It was fascinating. I was most interested when she was speaking to some women's rights advocates in Iran. A woman who was a judge before the Ayatollahs took over, another woman who is a photographer. I was astonished to learn that 65% of Iran's university students are women. And yet, a woman's testimony in court, and her life, are worth exactly half that of a man's.

I've always wondered why a woman would voluntarily wear a hijab; I've written about this before, and gotten such obnoxious comments that I am turning comments off for this post. I'm writing solely about my opinion, from the perspective of an American woman who believes in gender equality. If you don't agree with me, that's OK, but I'm really not interested in hearing vitriol about my opinion. At least I'm curious about this issue, unlike most Westerners, who write this off as archaic and ignorant behavior. I disagree; and I'd like to understand.

Once, in the past, when I've written about this, one commenter asked me, "Why would you care? How does it impact you? How dare you write about something you have no knowledge of?"

My answer to that is exceedingly simple. I'm curious; I always want to know 'why.' I'm a geek; researching something, reading about it, learning things has always thrilled me. Somewhere out there are the answers to nearly every question.

I doubt I'll ever understand intolerance, racism, sexism, but I do think the answers for 'why' are out there for most questions.

The main reason I wanted to watch this program was because I wanted an answer to the question, "Why do they hate us and our way of life? What has the average Yank done to offend them so horribly?" I don't have an answer yet; but I do now have some other avenues to research to understand better.