Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Knife to Your Throat and a Sword to Mine...

The topic of religious warfare and fighting is an exhausting topic that I almost decided not to write about it. History has recorded centuries of war, fighting, and even mass genocide caused in the name of the Divine. Millions have fought, bled, and died for a God they have never seen. Secular wars are sometimes disguised with religious symbols to entice the local population to rally behind one banner against the enemy. It has gone on and on and on for centuries and if we don't nuke ourselves in the process might continue for a few more.

But why do we honestly need to fight? Is it out of defense for our religion or out of domination? Why can't we be comfortable with the fact that nobody knows what happens to us when we die? You can believe whatever set of doctrine or theology about life after death but the fact is that nobody knows what happens! Nobody. IF we knew, then we wouldn't be so worried about the afterlife because it would be in our science and medical books.

How is the afterlife related to religious warfare? Religion throughout history dances around the concept that as creatures aware of our own mortality we know death is around the corner. This knowledge of death has haunted our every step. We yearn to get the most out of life because when our time comes, nothing can stop it. Religion soothes us with the thought that this may not be the last of our existence and that a part of us might go on after our bodies are buried. I am comfortable not knowing where I go or even if I have a soul to let go. We can't measure the soul, although some have tried, but billions of people believe we each have one.

But why must we kill for it? Some would say that "they" may kill but we don't. Any violent thought, action, or attitude poisons the very same religions that claim a message of peace. If the world's belief systems are meant to instill peace in your heart and among Mankind then there should be no interfaith fighting IF the adherents truly followed their teachings. Fallible mankind is to blame for religious warfare NOT the religion. Religion is shaped and carved by human hands while human minds interpret their texts to suit their human goals.

This is why I believe religiously-based governments can be very dangerous especially to the minority groups living within the borders. This does not mean that the U.S. is a dangerous nation because it is a "Christian" nation. It is a Christian nation because the majority of its citizens are Christian not because it was founded as a Christian nation. American Gospel by Jon Meacham covers the beliefs held by our Founding Fathers and their struggle to build a truly free nation from a multi-religious multi-cultural populace. A nation built on a secular understanding of freedom and morals is not doomed to becoming an immoral nation. The Founding Fathers understood this when they built our nation on natural, universal morals.

These natural, universal morals are found in all religious traditions and should be used as the ties that bind us closer as humans. You do not have to hate your neighbor just because they hate you or because they hold different beliefs. We are so blinded by pride, fear, and ignorance that we can not even see these ties that bind all of us as brothers. Once we remove these blindfolds not only will we shed mournful tears for the countless of lives lost from religious warfare we will shed hopeful tears for the future we can build together.

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