Find five minutes to go through this one. It’s long and it’s unconventional. I hope you will find a very different and new perspective if you are patient enough.
First things first, I am a born Hindu. So, that’s that. Now, here it goes…
Religion has given people great comfort…in a world torn apart by religion.
Religious violence has been on a steady rise recently, almost worldwide. No religion has been immune to it. Hinduism has seen its share recently, Islam has been boiling with it for sometime now, Christianity had a long violent streak before moderation and slowly, it is reverting back to a more conservative philosophy.
So, why hasn’t God just settled this dispute over religion? Who’s right? Just get it over with. Doesn’t he ever think, okay. . okay. .this has gone on long enough! Does God enjoy watching people murder each other in the name of religion? Is is right to say that a religion is violent? Or religion and violence are antithetical?
There is a huge lack of proper communication on the part of people from all faith. We either viscerally vilify faiths, blaming them for crimes or completely relieve them of all their deficiencies, Trying to completely divorce religion from violence is also wrong.
Case in point here is violence caused by ISIS. While some people totally lay all the blame at the doorsteps of Islam, others say Islam has nothing to do with it. If you concurr with the former, you just eviscerated a faith followed by more than 1.25 billion people. At the same time, we need to resist saying ISIS has nothing to do with Islam or that violence in the name of religion has nothing to do with religion. Of course it has to do with religion. If ISIS calls itself Muslim, we should probably take them seriously.
Saying ISIS is Muslim is okay as long as we realize that the tens of thousands of people that they kill are also Muslim, and the tens of thousands of people fighting them are also Muslims. So if ISIS is Muslim, and their victims are Muslim, and the people fighting them are Muslim — that doesn’t really say anything all that interesting about Islam itself.
There is obviously a serious problem with religious violence, and particularly with Islam and in the Middle East. But if we’re going to blame religion for violence in the name of religion, then we have to credit religion for every act of compassion in the name of religion, we have to credit religion for every act of love in the name of religion, and that’s not we people usually think. We focus very much on the negative.
Part of the problem is that there is this misconception that people derive their values from their scriptures. The truth is it is more often the case that people insert their values into their scriptures. Otherwise, every person of a faith who read the texts would read it exactly the same way. Both slave owners and abolitionists not only used the same Bible to justify their viewpoints, they used the same verses to do so. That’s the thing about scripture, it’s power comes from its malleability. You can read it in any way you want to.”
If you are a violent misogynist, you will find plenty in the Gita or in the Koran or in the Bible to justify your viewpoint. If you’re a peaceful feminist, you will find just as much in those scriptures to justify your viewpoint.
Without our interpretation, scriptures is just words on a piece of paper. It requires somebody to read it, to encounter it to have any meaning and obviously in that transaction we are bringing ourself, our views, our politics, our social ideas into the text. How we read scriptures has everything to do with who we are.
More than 8 out of 10 Indians will identify as Hindus! 7 out of 10 Americans will say they are Christians! Now, think about that for a minute. Do they go to temple/church everyday? Do they read a Gita/Bible on a regular basis? Can they tell you anything meaningful about God other than their rituals? No, of course not. The vast majority of the people when they say I’m a Hindu/Muslim/Christian, they are making a statement of their identity that includes our nationality, our ethnicity, our worldview, our politics, all of those things are wrapped up.
The thing about religion we people have to understand is that it’s far more a matter of identity than it is just a matter of beliefs and practices. Those things are obviously important but when we say , I’m a Hindu/Muslim/Christian, you’re making an identity statement far more so than a statement of the things you believe in. Religion is about who we are as a person more than it is about what we believe in the rituals that we practice.
GOD DOESN’T’ MAKE ANYONE A BIGOT, SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST BIGOTS!
Thanks for reading!