After the fall of the Soviet Union, Islam has become the new scapegoat – and favorite shadow projection object – for some in the west.

A lot of what’s going on seems so obvious that it’s hardly worth even mentioning. But if it was that obvious, I guess there wouldn’t be so much (apparently unquestioned) projection.

Here are some things that comes to mind:

Islam has become a favorite projection object for the shadow, for that in ourselves we don’t acknowledge and consciously embrace and own. We see it out there, and not “in here”. In reality, it’s very easy to make a list of all the “bad” things some see in Islam or Islamic cultures today, and find how we do the same – as individuals, nations, and a culture.

Religions may tend to be more or less peaceful in their expression. Buddhism tends to be more at the peaceful end, and the theistic (and Abrahamic) traditions less so. And yet, there is plenty of exceptions. Nothing is inevitable. Religions are, in a sense, tools, and it all depends on how we use them.

Islam isn’t inherently or inevitably less peaceful than, for instance, Christianity. For instance, during the golden age of Islam, Christian cultures tended be be far more barbaric and uncivilized than Islamic cultures. And many Muslims are far more peaceful and mature than many Christians (and vice versa).

The actions of western cultures goes a long way to explain why some in Islamic (and other) cultures are angry, feel powerless, and take to violence. We have acted in a very violent way towards them – economically, culturally, and militarily – so they are just doing the same thing back against us. It’s very understandable, even if a strategy of violence may not work very well. (It seems more a way of letting out frustration and anger.)

Similarly, some western politicians may – intentionally or not – fuel the scapegoating of Islam to distract from more local problems, and what they – and we – are doing that’s equally or more damaging or questionable.

I assume that in some years, when this is part of history and the history books, people will wonder how we – in the west – could have been so blind. How could we have been so blind to the obvious shadow projections? How could we have been so blind to our role in the dynamic? And yet, that’s what we humans tend to do. It’s part of being human.

What we can do is to bring it more into awareness. Be honest with ourselves. Take responsibility for our part of the dance. Perhaps explore this through inquiry, tonglen, ho’oponopono, and other practices.

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