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A Game of Viva Convivencia | Space Writing

A Game of Viva Convivencia


By Ziad Aazam / Friday, 25th March 2011 / Critical Thinking, Cultural Dialogue, Dialogue, Islam vs West, Society / Leave a comment /

(http://spacewriting.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/convivencia.jpg) Encounter by M. C. Escher To play the game, you need to put your emotions aside and read the following text. Extremists whether fundamentalists or liberals consider change as the ultimate objective. The pursuit of change is not by choice; it is an inevitable natural phenomenon and fact of life. As human beings roll through time making history, they morph from one form of living to another with one purpose only: to survive life. They do that by standing for their values such as justice, freedom of expression, dignity and the desire to regain the right to a life of their own choosing, making and controlling, while defending the same labels but not necessary the same content. When we protest or lead revolutions we use these labels to define our own special contents. It is in the content that we differ and where we have our conflict. It is here that we become US and they Them.
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A Game of Viva Convivencia | Space Writing

Objectively, i.e. emotions aside, we can only understand what happens to us if we understand what happens to them as we hold on our values and they on theirs. However, if we value freedom, then by virtue of this principle we should not reject others values, whoever these others may be, insofar as their values are not impediment to ours. In this process, we seek equilibrium in which our space of freedom should contain the other, otherwise we are not enduring the very same principle we set forth. Furthermore, this equilibrium state can only be reached if we are truly inclusive of the other, i.e. where there are common grounds, there is integration and where there are differences we stand peacefully on different grounds. If we value this Islamic principle of inclusivity, then by virtue of this principle we should tolerate, respect and include within the space of freedom the complete set of values the others have. This is not an unattainable state, which may be called the state of coexistence. It is, in fact, at the core of the post-modern world, the world of diversity, various narratives and multiple discourses underlying the art and science of humane living. This is the world we are part of whether we deny it or accept it. I believe that this state of coexistence is at the core of Islam as principles, not current practices of Muslims. Examples of coexistence, found at times of contact with other civilizations when Islam was a global powerful force, are abundant in the history of the Islamic world: Bait Al-Hekma, Andalusian Convivencia (Coexistence) and local cultural manifestations of Islamic principles in India, China and South-East Asia. The flexibility to adapt to cultural contexts shown by todays Muslims living in the West is a current example of coexistence when Islam is thriving locally without the force of power. With this framework in mind, in our (Us and Them) collective effort to stand for justice, freedom of expression, dignity and the desire to regain the right to a life of our own choosing, making and controlling has to come from both sides towards realizing the state of coexistence. The middle path is always difficult to those who choose to walk on extreme edges, where falling is the risk they take. Liberty for all, as granted by Islamic and Universal Values, can only be realized when Us and Them are not impediment to each other. In the process of reaching a state of equilibrium, if at all, people may be hurt and others may die, some may compromise and others may be suppressed but that is the price we all pay to keep life going.

Viva Convivencia Game To play this game you have to put your emotions aside. Otherwise, you will not be able to focus. 1. Pick a label of value. For example, Freedom. 2. Now, think of a content for this value. For example, a freedom to drive a car on safe roads. 3. Substitute in your mind any Them group you know affecting your pursuit of liberty with regards to the value you picked up. For example, a group who controls driving and affect your freedom to pursuit your objectives. Hints: groups can be governments, leaders, religious, ideologists, parties, men, women, friends, etc. 4. Evaluate the level of their external impediment to the value you picked. For example, to what extent the degree of their policy and road conditions is affecting your liberty to drive a car on safe roads. 5. Think of any possible internal impediment you have to their value with regards to the shared value of one label but different contents. For example, what impact you have, if
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A Game of Viva Convivencia | Space Writing

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any, on their driving policy and roads conditions with regards to their value. Compare the level of their external impediment to your value and your internal impediment to their value of the same label. Here, you are forced to compare contents of the same value from two points of view. Switch places and repeat the game by putting yourself in their shoes and think from their point of view. The size and feel of their shoes may be different, but you will not learn that till you try. Besides, you will learn that your value is shaped by their value and theirs by yours. A fair game. Look at the drawing above Encounter by M C Escher and analyse it carefully. Think. Think again. Think some more. Bon coexistence!

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