Monday, February 13, 2006

Perception is the clash of civilisations.

I’m a physicist by education and few of you have actually meet me. So in your mind what do you imagine me to be like. Do you see a pimpled guy with glasses who looks like Professor Frink from the Simpson. Who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of every episode of Star Trek. Or do you see a Brad Pitt look alike. I guess the answer is a lot closer to Frink then to Brad. Yet I do not wear glasses, have pimples nor have I ever watch an episode of star trek from beginning to end. I will leave the Frink vs Brad looks comparison to your imagination.

The vast majority of physicist I know do not fall into the Frink school of physicist appearance and actions. So why do you have this image of physicist. Simple because that is the perception of physicist people have through years of TV newspapers and other media.

Now while the perception people have about physicists can give me a unique edge over lets say accountants on nights out.:-) (I have been asked to explain the theory of special relativity by girls I have been chatting up for some reason) This same warping of perception is damaging worldwide peace.

If you ever read some American blogs you get to see how Muslims are seen by many Americans. They see them as a violent people, intent on the destruction of truth, justice the American way and sesame street. They saw 9/11, Madrid, 7/7 and suicide bombings in Israeli cafes. They look at violent protests over cartoons published in an obscure Danish newspaper. All they see is death and destruction caused in the name of Islam.

In Islamic countries the west is disliked . They see Islamic countries been invaded by western forces. They see American culture attempting to crush their culture. They hear the west talk about decency, then they see British Troops beating up teenagers. They hear the west talk about tolerance and then see the Danes shiting on their religion. They see America support Israel subjugation of the Palestine. All they see is death and destruction cause in the name of the west.

So the perception both sides see is of a clash of civilisations. It doesn’t matter if it is happening on a large scale or not it is perceived to be. The British army were originally greeted by nationalist but after a while due to the actions of a few the perception changed and rightly or wrongly they became the devil incarnate. This too ,will happen to the British army in Iraqi over the News of the world video. The actions of a few will demonise all.

So why is the west and Islam turning into each others respective bogey men. In Syria there is no protest without government permission. So this means that the protests in Syria were approved of if not organised by the government. If you look at the North how many people would have spoken out against the IRA. Since the decommissioning of weapons the McCartney sisters have had to leave the Short Strand. This kind of atmosphere exists in most of the countries of the middle east. You can not speak-out against the regime. So is it not beyond the bounds of possibility that many of the demonstrators were forced into protesting rather then having a violent hatred of all things Danish. The same goes for many other countries that had protests. With the Iranian government calling for all sorts of things against Europe.

With massive unemployment, corruption, and poor services. The governments are all very much in danger of being toppled. They all fear a cedar revolution. So what do they do. Invest in the country, open up trade, no they solidify their power by creating a common enemy. Like in Orwell’s 1984 if you tell them something often enough use what ever means are necessary to divert their attention from the true state of the country. Then patriotism will win out and the ineptitude of the government will hidden and they will come to love big brother.

Perception is distorting the worlds view of each other. Creating an even greater divide between us and the Arabs. This is not the fault of the media. They can not make up the pictures of the riots nor can they make up the pictures of the British soldiers beating up Iraqi teenagers. It is up to people to have enough cop on to separate reality from perception.

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