Monday, May 2, 2016

You're Different, and That's Bad

Last September, the Wall Street Journal conducted a video interview of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and posted it on YouTube. About a week and a half ago, someone posted the video to LinkedIn. In it, the Journal asks a bunch of everyday sorts of questions, like "Are you a morning person or a night owl," and "What's on your smartphone homescreen?" Nothing hard-hitting or that would have given you a idea to where The Software Giant's stock price might be going.  The comments that the video elicited from the LinkedIn community were what one might expect - praise for Mr. Nadella's "ordinary-person-ness," unflattering comparisons of Microsoft to other companies (and of Mr. Nadella to other CEOs), comments on how inspirational the video was, et cetera. But one comment, the most recent one at the time, stood out for me.

One of the questions that was asked of Mr. Nadella was: "Who's been the greatest influence on you?" Unsurprisingly, Mr. Nadella says: "My parents," followed by a brief description of the pair. Mr. Nadells described his father as an: "economist leftist Marxist." This triggered one viewer to remark: "Leftists have great evil. Guess he inherits great evil as well. No Jesus mentioned in his life."
It's to be expected that Mr. Nadella didn't have anything to say about Jesus - after all, none of the interview questions touched on religion, and Mr. Nadella is a Hindu. But I wasn't expecting someone to call him out for that (or his parentage), let alone in so sectarian a fashion.

Christianity, as a global religion, is far too large an institution for all of its adherents to be of one mind. And so once one moves beyond certain universal defining factors of the religion as a whole, it's not difficult to find differences of opinion about certain subjects.

One such difference of opinion has to do with whether or not Christianity (or even particular sects within it) can lay claim to be the sole source of spiritual and religious truths or even Truth, should one chose to look at it this way. It's a topic that can be a serious bone of contention, especially if it begins to expand outward from there. Because it's not difficult to meet people who would tell you that Christianity is the sole source of justice, morality and even "Good." It's one of the factors that lends the religion (or, perhaps to be more accurate, the entire group of religions) an air of intolerance in many people's eyes. After all, it can be hard to see a group of people as accepting of others after a comparison of non-believers to some of humanity's worst criminals. David Lim's comment fits neatly into that mold.

The United States, like most first-world nations, has a fairly extensive legal system, and one that's moderately well-enforced (given the sheer number of laws on the books, it's hard to imagine the country doing much "better" than that. And that's what tends to stand between people who see evil in political and religious differences and an escalating pattern of murders and reprisals. American Christians often see themselves as above the sort of actions that they have come to religious extremists of other faiths. So confident are we in our tolerance bona fides that The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is legally barred from commenting on the United States.

But a reading of American history the rule of law is a more fragile thing than we give it credit for. We shouldn't forget that.

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