I can continue to be an optimistic idealist :-)

Yesterday something positive happened. This is one positive example among many many negative ones, but still something special has happened: the application of Levinas' discourse method worked successfully. We had at Orkut for the 100th time a discussion about the Islam. My friend Ghulam Nabi from Pakistan quoted some Quran verses to answer a question about the Islam. A boy from India told him to "shut the fuck up" with his Quran verses, and asked if he didn't have any views of his own. The situation at that time was that there were about 3 non-Muslims (including the boy from India) shouting insults at the Muslims in the community.

I wrote a post to the non-Muslims that they of course don't have to agree with what Nabi said but that they could at least try to understand what he says, otherwise it doesn't make sense to have that discussion at all. I explained that the answers to these questions about the Islam can be found in the Quran and that that was why these verses were quoted.

It was strange, in fact I was explaining a religious perspective to atheists. We spoke about punishments to non-believers and I said: "Of course a God won't like it if people don't believe in him." A believer wouldn't say "a God" but just God. For an atheist, however, it isn't a relevant question if and how God would punish non-believers since they think that God doesn't exist. But they should be able to imagine that people who believe in God will believe in a God who punishes people who deny his existence.
So I explained that it belongs to the way Nabi looks at the world that he quotes Quran verses when he answers questions about the Islam.
Then there came a post from a christian American who said that he could recognize himself in the described religious perspective. He also thinks that God punishes non-believers, but he said that God would wait until the end of ones life with his judgement and that he would give people a free choice, he would not force them to do as he says, he would present intelligent reasons to help a would-be believer to find faith in that God.

Then one of the 3 people who were shouting at the Islam (from the US also) said to the Indian boy that it's stupid to tell Nabi to shut up, that he took distance from that. And then the Indian boy apologized. And the third person also nuanced his views and said that I was sweet :-)

So the complete fight in the beginning lead to a friendly respectful and understanding dialogue in the end. It makes me very happy.

Important aspects of Levinas' discourse method:
So you have an open and critical dialogue, you are patient and you show empathy with and respect for the other. You know that you can learn something from the other by listening to a different perspective.
It's not a model of harmony. You are not going to be kind to each other because you don't want to hurt each other. You say what you think so that the other person can in the end understand it, hopefully. The process of the dialogue is full of confrontations, because the two people are completely different, so when they talk about what they find important, their values will collide.
That is good, the collision makes that the other can wake the first person up, because he puts everything into question of what the first person thought it was true and what at first spoke for itself. It's not a comfortable experience when your safe and known world is shaken and opened up / broken into by the other. But if you are open for the other, if you welcome him, and if the other does the same, then you can have real contact and a good ethical relation.

Excellent post!
Today Ghulam Nabi read what I wrote in this blog about the positive Orkut event. He said that I missed one point, so I will add it in a comment then.

To the young man from India, after he made apologies, he said:

"Assalam u Alaikum / Peace be on to you brother

I have no hard feelings for you, You are like my younger brother.
Dont be angry again because I have to quote again another Ayat/Verse of quran which I am following in this situation.

41:34 Not can goodness and Evil be equal. Repel with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate!

This is very strong. GN is accepted now as a honourable man, as the American man said:

"I understand your anger with Islam. But I think telling Ghulam Nabi to "shut the f--- up" is really a very bad thing to do.
I am sure he is an honorable man. If you agree with him or understand him or not, he does not deserve to be spoken to this way.

So GN can be himself and he shows that the Quran stimulates people to stop hate and to become friends, which is exactly what happened at that time and place in that dialogue :)
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