How the Body Heals Itself

Every Mom at some point gives this sage advice:

“Don’t pick at that scab. It will heal itself if you leave it alone.”

It’s quite likely Barbara Bush gave that same advice to her own children. But some children just don’t listen.

Pick pick pick.

“Stop that George, you’ll get an infection.”

And so it goes. Keep picking, and the infection just gets worse.

From “you’re with us or you’re against us,” to “war on Islamic fascism” to gloom-and-doom if I don’t get my shield–the-telecoms-from-ratting-me-out law, it’s been pick pick pick for nearly seven years. And the infection has only gotten worse.

The tragedy is that, even if “radical islamists were out to get us,” there are signs of potential healing.

After almost five years of war, many young people in Iraq, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach…

The shift in Iraq runs counter to trends of rising religious practice among young people across much of the Middle East, where religion has replaced nationalism as a unifying ideology.

While religious extremists are admired by a number of young people in other parts of the Arab world, Iraq offers a test case of what could happen when extremist theories are applied. Fingers caught in the act of smoking were broken. Long hair was cut and force-fed to its wearer. In that laboratory, disillusionment with Islamic leaders took hold…

Professors reported difficulty in recruiting graduate students for religion classes. Attendance at weekly prayers appears to be down, even in areas where the violence has largely subsided, according to worshipers and imams in Baghdad and Falluja. In two visits to the weekly prayer session in Baghdad of the followers of the militant Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr this fall, vastly smaller crowds attended than had in 2004 or 2005.

Such patterns, if lasting, could lead to a weakening of the political power of religious leaders in Iraq. In a nod to those changing tastes, political parties are dropping overt references to religion.

As much as I’d like to snicker that Iraq’s political parties are ahead of our political parties in the latter regard, the important point is that the scab of religion-based oppression can wither away of its own accord, if only we stop emboldening it by picking at it.

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