Friday :: Mar 24, 2006

Reaping What Is Sown

by pessimist

This post is going to be stream-of-consciousness, so bear with it. I'm trying not to clog up this stream-of-consciousness post with a lot of research and link-provision, so you have to do this for yourself if you want to know more about someone or something I present in this post.

The world is outraged at the fate awaiting the Christian convert facing execution for his faith. There is no defense for this act on the part of the very people George claims to be providing freedom and liberty only to devote allegiance to the Taliban and their goals, and rightly so.

The purpose of religion in any society is to be the source of hope and inner peace, a refuge from the harsh realities of daily life and the things people do to each other. It is to be a model of a better world that we should be striving to create out of the raw material we have.

But this 'better world' remains idealistic, because in the pursuit of that better world, believers revert to the worst aspects of humanity in order to create their version of that better world. This may have been going on as long as someone could point up into the sky and claim that some undefineable cloud being 'told' some deluded bully that he was to force everyone else to follow him - or else. With the threatened execution of this Afghan Christian, Islam fits that bill.

This isn't to say that Christianity is exempt from this charge, for its history is rife with similar examples.

I can think of several examples of religious intolerance inspiring incredible brutality off the top of my head. The execution of Giordano Bruno for daring to challenge dogma with science. The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of the Huguenots. The numerous Russian pogroms - pre-Hitler Holocausts - against Slavic Jews. The murder of Nagasaki Christians by Buddhist and Shinto followers. The Crusades.

It is as if religion inspires a sort of insanity in its adherents, most recently exemplified by Ann Coulter's infamous rant about invading Islamic countries and forcing Christian conversion. I'm sure she has a lot to say about the pending execution of a Christian without a taint of awareness of what a hypocrite this makes her.

But this charge also has to be levelled at Muslims if they allow this religious execution to take place. During the recent Mohammad Cartoon Crisis, Muslims pleaded that the cartoons were creating a false impression of Islam, that it was really a religion of peace. Killing this Christian 'because it is our law' and yet complaining when Christians take action against Muslims for violating their laws (the reason I brought up Bruno above) completely destroys any sympathy I had for their claim.

Whether ancient Egyptian or Scientology, a religion is its own proof of evolution. Reading the Old Testament reveals rituals and acts that are no longer followed by Judaism or Christianity. The changes made since these rituals were common are the evolution of that religion. Call it growing up just to give the concept an accessible identity.

Because Islam exists in harsh environments, its tenets are a reflection of that environment. But modern technology is softening that harshness, with things like Toyota pickup trucks made by Buddhists in Japan fueled by gasoline that was refined by Hindus in India, or maybe by Orthodox Christians in Russia. In any case, all of our environments are blending into one big environment containing everyone. It is rapidly becoming impossible to isolate one's group from all the others, especially through technology.

It is the acceptance of the utility of that technology which will affect the religions of the world, and make them weaker against change - even in dogma. Christians are no longer burned at the stake for their beliefs (although it might feel like that sometimes to those subjected to outraged calumny!), and it is getting to be time for Islam to 'grow up' and accept that the world that created it no longer exists.

But I don't want this to seem like I'm picking on Islam exclusively! Hindus have to end their religious-based hatred of Muslims as much as the Japanese have had to abate their Shinto-based Bushido, which inspired the Pacific War and untold barbaric acts against non-believers. 'Christians' like Ann Coulter have to grow up and accept that they do not dictate to the rest of the world. Jews have to recognize that Palestinians are people as much as Palestinians have to recognize that Jews are.

We all seek peace and plenty in which to raise our children so that they can raise theirs.

There are many things standing in the way of achieving that peace and plenty for all. Some of them we can do something about. Some of them, like religion, we claim we cannot. We will remain barbarians killing each other for specious reasons until we recognize the similarities among the world's religions are much more important than the differences.

It really doesn't matter if one prays to Jesus or Buddha, or bows to Mecca five times a day, or seeks to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem, or whatever. What one wants from one's religion is a sense of peace and a sense of hope in order to face life another day.

And all that matters is that peace and hope arrive to provide that solace.

pessimist :: 3:37 AM :: Comments (9) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!