Send Them Back To The Stone Age

Tom Facchine

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Channel: Tom Facchine

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In a 1968 memoir,

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there was a United States Air Force General called his name was Curtis LeMay. You know, the United States was involved in the Vietnam War at the time. And reflecting on it. He said, you know, instead of negotiating with the Vietnamese, we should have just bombed them back to the Stone Age. That was the phrase that he used.

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This phrase actually came up again, the war on terror. Maybe some of you remember, there was allegedly an exchange between Pervez Musharraf, the late President shot off. And the US official Richard Armitage, who apparently said, basically, you have to join the war on terror, or else we're going to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age.

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Now, that's a really intense phrase, okay, and a lot is going on there. The barbarity and the hubris and the arrogance and stuff like that. But there's one specific thread that's hidden in that phrase that I want to kind of pull out and bring to your attention. And that's the understanding of time. Okay, the idea that you could take someone who their calendar says the same calendar date that I have in my phone, 2023. And by doing something to them, I can actually take them up out of time and move them back on some sort of scale, and throw them all the way back to the Stone Age.

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Interesting.

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That sort of threat, that sort of phrase has certain assumptions behind it, and the assumptions behind they're actually really, really important to what we're trying to do here. And Tokyo Community Center, what we're trying to do as a Muslim community in North America,

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one of the assumptions that's hidden in that quote, is that the idea of what is the modern world, it's built on technology, it's built on infrastructure, you think about roads, you think about gadgets, we've got my show all these cool, you know, cameras, and these tablets, and these sorts of things, fun, new things. And what's hidden in the quote is that, well, if I can just, you know, snatch those things away from you, I send you right back to the Stone Age. Now, there's some problems with that kind of assumption. And there's a few of them. So one of them, it under emphasizes or doesn't give sufficient credit to some of the technical, illogical advancements that

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previous civilizations have had. Right, some that still remained to this day unmatched, we've got Roman roads that are better than New York roads, at least, right. And they've figured out, you know, geologists, they've looked at Roman concrete, and somehow, the way that they mix their concrete with the passage of time and erosion actually adds to the strength of the concrete, as opposed to what we see people using today for their building materials. You know, the pyramids are such a miracle that, you know, they think that maybe aliens helped out or something like that, they can't really accept that this is something that people back then could pull off, could do. So it's not just when we talk

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about bombing someone of the Stone Age or some people back, cave dwellers a stone age, we're not just describing facts, here, we're actually making some sort of claim we're claiming that now is the best possible world that you could live in. And that anything in the past Well, it's the Stone Age, it's bad, it's backwards, it's inadequate, it needs to be updated. And so if you don't get with the program, if someone's threatening to bomb you back to the Stone Age, they're basically saying, I'm gonna wipe out all of your progress, you're gonna have to start back again from zero.

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It's interesting that that's kind of a triumphant narrative, right? It's like, well, we've just added and added and added and added and we've got all these things that we keep on adding to our value as human beings or our civilization, our or our group. But why don't we think of the liabilities? Why don't we think of the drawbacks and the negatives? Why don't we think of impending nuclear war? Why don't we think of housing crisis? Why don't we think of food deserts? Why don't we think of environmental disaster, somehow that stuff gets wiped away, and it's not considered part of the modern world, or at least not emblematic of the modern world? What's emblematic of the modern

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world is the microphones and the gadgets and all the fun stuff. We don't think what's pushed to the side all of the bad stuff. And so to understand the place of Islam in the modern world, and the place of this community in the modern world, it's actually a tough task. We have to describe something that we're inside of. It's like if you ask the fish to describe water,

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I would imagine the fish would probably say, what's that?

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If that's the only thing that you know, you're swimming in it, you're constantly surrounded by it every single second of every single day. It's hard to grasp what exactly it is. And only through going through something else can you actually understand

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Uh, what you're talking about? So we can't just take at face value these sorts of things that people say, you know, we live in the best time and modern technology and you don't want to go back to those days do you? We need to be a little bit more critical than that. Because if the received understanding of the modern world is right, if we are living in the best possible time, the best possible place the pinnacle of progress. Well wait a second, that causes some really significant theological problems. The Quran was sent to us in the past. The Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa salam lived in the past, Islam, the best generation of human beings was in the past. So if we're

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going to treat the past as just some bad stone age thing we don't want to return to.

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We've closed ourselves off to learning from the past, and assume that we can only leave it behind.

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No, it's not us that needs to change with the times. As the saying goes, maybe it's the times that needs to change with us.

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So instead of trying to fit take a slam and fit it and mutilate it into modern sensibilities, recent sensibilities, maybe we need to shine a light and start questioning some of these modern sensibilities and investigate how Islam actually provides answers to modern predicaments in interesting ways.