Taliban have denounced a polio vaccine campaign as an effort to sterilize Muslims. Further, they have asserted that aid workers have acted as spies for western interests. The Taliban espouse Sharia, a very strict interpretation of Islamic law. Women belong in the kitchen and on the birthing couch, among other restrictions that cover every aspect of dress and comportment. Their philosophy offers a comforting assurance to their followers, I have no doubt: How nice to have everything spelled out.
The Taliban are an easy target for less strictured and structured points of view ... points of view that may seldom review their own sweeping assumptions and actions that can leave others injured or dead.
In the specific instance,
Polio is a highly infectious disease that invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours. A $5.5 billion global eradication plan was launched in April with the aim of vaccinating 250 million children multiple times each year to stop the virus finding new footholds, and stepping up surveillance in more than 70 countries.So, in the name of religion or philosophy, it's OK if a child or multiple children should be stricken if not doomed. That's the Taliban message: In the name of a good and true society or belief system, it's OK if children die. It's an easy position to criticize ... but how different, in subtle or gross ways, are other sweeping philosophies or religions?
I think it's fair to say that the Taliban allegation of widespread sterilization qualifies as pure, dumbass ignorance coupled with a desire for political power. But I also can imagine that the allegation that western interests use outreach organizations as a means of spying is certainly within the realm of possibility. The practice is hardly a secret.
But still ... is the death or disfigurement of a single child an acceptable price for a grand philosophy or religion? How grand is the philosophy or religion by such a reckoning? Is deliberate and conniving ignorance the mark of a grand philosophy or religion? Aren't philosophies and religions based in some notion that things can be better? Is a child's -- or adult's -- death or disfigurement "better?"
As a personal matter, I really, really don't like the Taliban. They scare the crap out of me as they demean the human potential with cookie-cutter convenience. But I also don't like picking on them. It's too easy and too convenient and too often picking on them, or others like them, diverts attention from other, more 'benevolent' philosophies and religions that can preen and posture under the banner of their own goodness as they consign others (just a 'few' perhaps') to disfigurement or death. It's all too easy-peasy in its thoughtless ways ... ways that are far from grand and certainly not 'good.'
Individuals as well, I imagine, could take a fruitful lesson from the grandeur of the Taliban.