Stating the obvious

I have always considered understatement a very English characteristic. If something seems bloody obvious we would not then go to the trouble of articulating it. Recently, however, I have been reflecting on this and have come to realise what trouble it has caused me. It has begun to dawn on me that perhaps it is not a national trait at all — perhaps it is just me.

To me it goes without saying that, when I talk about living my life by a religious law, I appreciate that those who do not share my beliefs have a different viewpoint. Apparently not. No, instead I must clearly state, “I know you don’t share my beliefs and your view of the Law is different, but I insist on not going to the pub with you.”

Back in 2001, I thought it went without saying that the terrorist attacks on America were unquestionably horrific, so I did not articulate this when I expressed my opposition to the war. I should have said, “These barbaric acts made me physically vomit, but I oppose the invasion of Afghanistan.” Instead I had to put up with my colleague sending me an email detailing the harrowing account of someone who had survived the collapse of the World Trade Centre, telling me, “Perhaps this will help you understand.”

As a Muslim it seems you have to constantly be on guard as to how your words may be interpretted by others. You cannot make a point without qualifying it with a statement so obvious that it makes you cry. Except, that is, when your qualifier proves that you are an uncaring and insincere oaf who says he cares, but clearly doesn’t: “but” in the wrong-way-round sentance is the killer.

But then, all of this is a statement of the obvious, isn’t it?

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