Good and evil
I’ll start the beginning at the end!
This post started off as a simple share on Facebook. It was going to be a quick, ‘Yep’ before I returned to wasting hours of my life in Warcraft – (albeit playing in French, might as well be productive!) – instead of studying some psychology. Then I added a few lines. Then I was buzzing. If all this chaos is going on in my head you can try it!
The post, staying on track a moment, was on Mashable and entitled ISIS isn’t the world’s deadliest terrorist group. Boko Haram is.
The Nigerian jihadist group was behind the killings of 6,644 people in 2014, compared to 6,073 deaths at the hands of ISIS militants,
But really it’s all about perspective. From a Catholic or even any reasoning point of view, the terrorists of both groups are evil beyond words. From said extremists’ point of view, the infidels (us) deserve everything they (we) get. From my vantage point, they are all 9 kinds of crazy and/or enthralled to another unsavoury deity: Mammon.
The search for truth
I tend to stay away from religion – for a good reason. I tend to upset people with my blunt views; I learnt this in early school. On a school trip to the local synagogue, as I looked around and tried to decipher the Hebrew scriptures, the Religious Education teacher and a Rabbi tried to explain why the women have to be segregated. I never did find out why, as I was hurried out by a crimson-faced teacher at my comments. Similarly, in class, the bemused look on my teacher’s face at some of my awkward questions and insights, well… Curious that after that our school trip to a mosque was cancelled!
Illusion or Delusion. Can I play with madness?
If I happen to believe in tree spirits, house brownies, the monster under the bed and the dark, evil ‘things’ hiding in the coal shed, that’s my choice (or my delusion). It is something I’ll either grow out of or I’ll realise, as I grow up, that these invisible friends/fiends are all in my head, that I need therapy.
Therapy! That is, NOT burning at the stake, being poked with red-hot iron bars, or drowned in a duck pond by a witch-hunter, but sessions with a trained psychiatrist or psychologist. By a doctor, a scientist, and maybe some antipsychotic drugs for good measure. They won’t call me crazy, they’ll use polite, medical terminology. ‘Mostly harmless’, perhaps underlined in red in my hospital report.
Now if, in my madness, I was so convincing, the doctors started to believe me, they’d huddle, they’d think about their careers and decide, wisely, best not to put ‘that’ in the report. Then I’d go back to the asylum. (Do they still have those?)
NOW, if instead of one of the doctors sell my ‘story’ to a national paper – and people start to believe it…
Do you see where this leads?
In a reasonable, educated world, I’d be labelled mentally ill. OK, I’m crazy, I can live with that. What’s normal for the spider is chaos for the fly and all that. But to get other people to believe in my invisible friends after talking to me, now that’s crazy. You take it a step further – you get people that take it on ‘faith’ that my made-up friends/voices/visions are real because they heard it from Mary, who heard it from her cousin Beth, who overheard two doctors talking – so it MUST be true! No, religious people scare me. They are not right in the head! That a great many highly educated doctors, scientists even Nobel laureates are religious baffles me.
Faith? Or ten broken rules
But faith, what’s it all about really?
I was baptised Roman Catholic. I am a good Christian! Umm, wait, no. Actually, if I recall the story right, I nearly died at birth and was baptised in the hospital to save my soul. Yep. I’ve done bugger all but take my first breath and some sodding priest is running in, quoting canon 867.2: “An infant in danger of death is to be baptized without delay.” The church’s doctrine is such that babies are full of sin and only they can save them, convert them.
Consider these quotes on indoctrination, from wikipedia:
“Religious indoctrination, the original sense of indoctrination, refers to a process of imparting doctrine in an authoritative way, as in catechism.”
“As a pejorative term, indoctrination implies forcibly or coercively causing people to act and think on the basis of a certain ideology.”
Read that way, my parents, with the blessing of the pope, the local clergy and the hospital itself forcibly tried to indoctrinate me to their illogical and extremist ways. Against my will, I was dragged (literally at times) to church to be further indoctrinated. (They soon gave up trying, thankfully). Then, because I was a Roman Catholic I was forced into a Catholic school – instead of the grammar school I was meant for, and passed the entrance test for – and therein forced to take religious studies. The first time the priest visited our house I was out the back gate and legging it for the fields so fast!
I was minutes old and the buggers were trying to brainwash me! To label me sinful. Fortunately, I can think for myself and at a very early age took a hard look at the church and thought, no thanks.
Take the ten commandments
- ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’
Who are you again? Have we met?
- ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image’
Not a clue what you are on about mate. Did you mean crayon images?
- ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain’
See, there you go again, imposing. Just because some crazy old man in a frock dribbled water on me doesn’t make me your bitch!
- ‘Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy’
Ha! Sunday trading laws are eating away at that.
(‘Ye can not serve God and mammon’.
I don’t serve either of you, though I’m pretty sure capitalists worship the other guy!)
- ‘Honour thy father and thy mother’
Don’t go there! Honour and respect is earned, not granted unconditionally.
- ‘Thou shalt not kill’
Though shalt not kill. Full stop. I do not see any clauses and caveat and exception there. You know, like:
‘Kill the heretics’,
‘start a “Holy” crusade or three’
or, my favourite, ‘That shalt not suffer a witch to live’.
I’d have been in trouble in the middle-ages. The bible considered my left-handedness a sin! Hypocrites!
- ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’
Fair enough, but given the deprivations of priests and the fact more than a few monasteries in the middle-ages ran brothels to raise money for the church, more hypocrisy.
- ‘Thou shalt not steal’
But if you invent places like hell and purgatory and use it to demand money with menace from untold millions of brain-washed followers in return for salvation, that’s ok?
- ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour’
Hmm, do not recall an exception that adds, ” unless said neighbours have lands and property we want, in which case we can accuse her of sorcery, torture her until she confesses (or dies under interrogation) and claim their lands”
- ‘Thou shalt not covet (neighbour’s house)’
(See above under false witness)
‘Thou shalt not covet (neighbour’s wife)’
(See above under false witness and under adultery)
‘Thou shalt not covet (neighbour’s servants, animals, or anything else)’
Definitely see under false witness!
What is “pay us money to save your soul from purgatory” but an extortion and protection racket?
Can you truly believe the Catholic Church amassed untold, inestimable billions in currency, silver, gold, land and property by honest means, by living up to all ten of their own commandments? Or, frankly, even a single one of them? Care to draw lines between unwavering faith, gullible, and downright stupid?
Do as I say, not as I do
Just as a reminder and sense of perspective, the (self-styled) ‘Holy Roman Empire – aka ‘Catholic Church’ were directly and at times enthusiastically responsible for the torture and murder of over 50,000 – possibly over 600,000* people labelled as ‘witches’. You can add those murdered for blasphemy or being ‘heretic’ to the list.
*No true figure is known, it may well be in the millions. I recall, a long time ago, reading that that figure exceeded 6 million, more than the total of Jews exterminated by Hitler and the Nazis in the second world war.
Doing “the Good Lord’s work” for some might conjure up (see what I did there?) kindly old preachers. Or a firebrand Baptist priest in the bible-belt of the southern states of America. Or the vision of a young girl, beaten, half-naked, being jeered at, pelted with rotten vegetables, tied to a slow-moving cart as she’s driven to be burnt at the stake as a witch. (Her real ‘crime’ being to reject the lecherous advances of the village priest!)
For instance, searching for ‘How many were killed as witches‘ turned up this quote, taken from an 18th-century treatise:
The Stedinger were settlers, mostly from Holland, who opened up marshy land next to Friesland, on the Weser. For refusing to pay tithes to the Archbishop of Bremen, a crusade was preached against them and they were wiped out in 1234.
If you want to get your hands dirty, try researching ‘Malleus Maleficarum’. Lovely book, written in 1486. the original idea was to refute witchcraft. Instead, it was twisted into a torture manual for the church and “contributed to the increasingly brutal prosecution of witchcraft during the 16th and 17th centuries.”
Judge actions, not words
You read the press, see all the threats and horrors of ISIL.
You may, after that, see all the conspiracy stories wondering why the media moguls are peddling this so hard (what are they trying to hide?)
You can, like Mashable, draw attention to other extremist groups doing worse.
You might even pause to think about all the other horrors in the world – the children living in drains in parts of Mexico, or, closer to home, Romania.
You might, if you read a lot, watch a lot of documentaries, consider how many die a year in Chinese factories, Indian sweatshops and (illegal) Indonesian mines. Children, women, whole families literally worked to death (legal slaves) to ensure the profits of insanely rich and powerful multinationals like Apple, Primark, M&S etc.
You might, like me, see all these atrocities carries out by (supposed) Muslims and wonder about things.
The racists out there – both Islamophobes and Islamics with a chip of their shoulder – might assume I’m referring to a jihadist in our midst, every burka hiding a vest-bomb. Yes, it’s real, proven so in Paris. But it doesn’t mean every Muslim is as such.
(Personally, I do not like the Islamic faith. Or any other for that matter. This doesn’t make me an Islamophobe or any other type of -phobe. I have issues with any religion that does not treat and respect women as equals. That list seems to include just about every religion short of Wicca (and more than a few covens seem to be led by older men, asking the younger women to dance naked in the woods with them!) Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Judaism, even Buddhists place restrictions on females! Yes, some aren’t as bad as others. Some are getting better with time. Others might argue otherwise. But to varying degrees, they all either lie, or they delude themselves. They use get-outs like “In our culture…” Even atheists use excuses to justify paying women less, for instance!)
You might wonder about all the Muslims in the press this past week coming out and saying, “They aren’t like us/We aren’t like them.”
Oh, sorry, but I’m a tad cynical here. Yes, I hear you, I believe you and I do sympathise, but… There has to be a ‘but’ with a sentence like that. Is this sudden outpouring – including a post by the Muslim Council of Britain in the tabloids – because of a love for your fellow countrymen (in your often segregated communities, for which I blame politics as much as religion). Or – be honest – is it because you’ve seen the outburst of anger and hatred around the world and think, “Oh dear, all that **** is going to come down on us!” Don’t be ashamed if so, it’s a natural feeling, but still, a tad late in my books – this has been going on for a long, long time.
Following on from the last paragraph: Oh the silence! I read a lot, I follow the news a lot. More than most, perhaps. I see, I think, I follow patterns, I think a bit more, and I see anomalies, gaps, coincidences that make me wonder some more. For instance:
Either ISIS and similar groups do or do not represent Islam. Yes or no, not hard, given the push. Certainly, in the press, many Muslims are saying no. But what are the imams, the clerics, the Saudi Royal family saying? Ah yes. NOTHING!
Saudi Sharia laws are so barbaric they are still in the dark ages of the tenth century. If you cross their laws, on their soil, you will know about it. Followed by beating, lashings that tear your flesh to the bone, bits lopped off – like hands, heads. Simply put, if you offend clerics in Iran, Iraq, Saudi or just about anywhere YOU WILL KNOW IT. No quibble. No question, no hanging about on the line saying how it’s hard to see from here. It’s crystal clear if you take the blinkers off.
Yet, on ISIL, nothing. Therefore, in the eyes of the world, by action (or lack thereof) Islam supports the Islamic State of the Levant (aka ISIL aka ISIS aka Daesh). If it were otherwise the people – you – would rally against the hate preachers we hear so much about in the press. If the press were suppressing such articles you would cry long and loud and hard about your religious right. There’s over a billion Muslims on the planet, you would be heard. Yet, this past week aside, we hear nothing.
So, here I sit, waiting for the people, the Muslims all around the world to name and out their hate preachers, the jihadists turning vulnerable (if a tad simple) people like ‘Cowgirl’ from an amoral party-girl into a suicide bomber.
I sit here waiting for the Muslim councils around the world to be of one voice and say, “This is WRONG! Do not believe the hatred and lies of ISIL, it is not our way. Islam is a tolerant religion” (caveat: unless you live in Saudi!)
I wait for the hugely influential Saudi royal family to say the same. (Though I think the oceans and deserts will freeze over first!)
So, no, while I appreciate the awful situation that honest, hard-working Muslims are in right now, as a whole, you dug your own grave. It’s up to you to tell not just the world but your own leaders: this is wrong. Not because you are scared NOW, but because it’s the right thing to do. You need to erase words like ‘heretic’, ‘apostate’, ‘infidel’, ‘jihadi’ and any other words that are calls to hatred, to intolerance, to war.
If the 1,500,0000,000 Muslims around the world turned on the radicals, the hate preachers, the crazies and said, “No, we won’t listen to your lies and twisted truths, we won’t give you our sons and daughters as fodder, our money for weapons, our shelter. You are bad people” what then? In a generation, starved of an audience, of support, they’d wither away. Yes, the world will always have dangerous people like these who will murder, rape, extort, but they won’t praise them as leaders or caliphates or visionaries, they will see them in their true shape: criminals. A true god, a compassionate god, does not instruct their followers to sadistically maim children, murder innocents, destroy civilisations, subjugate anyone that’s different. No, that is the work of madmen. Of psychopaths and sociopaths.
The one true faith?
Here’s a last, cold, hard thought for you all: Takbir – Allahu Akbar – God is great.
Lots of ways it’s used, some correct, within your faith, others perhaps blasphemous. Yet how old is religion?
Judaism? 3,000 years?
Hinduism? 3,000 years?
Buddhism? 2,500 years?
Christianity? 2,000 years
Islam? 1,500 years?
Scientology? 63 years
Wicca? 61 years
To Muslims, the following is asking for trouble: If Allah is so great, why’d he take so long to get here? And why are you so insecure over your faith?
Applies to all theologies but other, more tolerant religions aren’t likely to lop my head off for that, or come looking for blasphemers with baseball bats, or, as is law in Saudi, sentence people to death – murder them – for anything remotely classable as apostasy. Seriously what other country on the planet is so insecure in their faith, so retarded, that being accused of changing your religion is a beheadable offence!? Stuff your oil, stuff your lucrative orders. It is was up to me I’d cancel all contracts with Saudi and let them slide back into the 8th century they seem to love so much! As this Washington Post article observes, Islamic State (terrorists) and Saudi Law is just a tick list of atrocities.
To the Jews, the Catholics, even to tree-hugging New Ages witches, might I remind you that the human race has been around for millions of years, albeit most of that hiding in caves. Where are all the previous deities and demi-gods, prophets, sons of god?
How many of those ‘true religions’ were, like Wicca (author Gerald Gardner) and Scientology (author L. Ron Hubbard), put together by the not by the word of god, but by more base, human, male desires, namely sex, power, influence and money. Or by ignorance.
Look at all the troubles in Northern Ireland in the past. The killing and assaults between Protestants and Catholics. Can’t remember what sparked it all off, but ignorance and hatred, generation after generation carried it for over a century. Yet where did the Protestant faith erupt? In the loins of King Henry the VIII! Some fat, entitled sociopath wanted heirs, the existing church wouldn’t give him a divorce so he started lopping off heads, starting with his wife! Men, sex, power. Again.
How many religions were forgotten, abandoned because people lost faith – people saw through them – people found new, better ‘truths’. How long before Islam or Wicca or any of the others is put aside? Let alone quirky cults like the colander wearing Pastafarians and their satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
All beliefs and faiths will be forgotten, one day. It doesn’t matter how ferociously you deny it, no matter what atrocities are carried out in its’ name, or what great goods. In time it will be dust. The ‘holy’ books unreadable to future generations. Civilisations, even continents rise and fall, most not even remaining in myth.
Maybe everything you ever believed IS the truth. Or maybe your faith is based on the lies of some dirty old man, perpetuated by a succession of men that saw it was good and wanted a bit of the action?
By a strange coincidence, the day after I posted this I read the following on the Hindustan Times: Indian imams issue joint fatwa against IS, call it un-Islamic
The fatwa, signed by over 1,050 Indian scholars and imams was submitted to the UN:
It urged the international community to take immediate steps to eliminate this terror group that has caused mayhem in the region and is spreading its tentacles in the South Asian region.
Now to see if the imams in the rest of the world follow their lead. If the oil-rich Saudi’s and their ilk abstain, it will be very telling.